Weeds with yellow flowers are a common problem for gardeners who want to maintain a beautiful and healthy yard. These yellow flowering weeds can be pesky plants that grow quickly and aggressively, making these intruders difficult to control or remove. If you have a garden with flowers, vegetables or fruits, these wild yellow plants could be stealing water, nutrients and sunlight from your lawn.
While some yellow weeds are tall, hardy and easy to identify, others can be small, aggressive and grow in your grass all over. Whether you’re trying to get rid of these tenacious plants in your garden or just want to know what’s growing in your backyard, learning more about the different types of weeds can be helpful.
To help you, we’ve compiled a list of the most common weeds with yellow flowers. From small to tall, explore these yellow flowering weeds to learn more about the pesky wild plants in your yard.
What Are Yellow Flowering Weeds?
The most common yellow flower weeds are the dandelion, bird’s foot trefoil, black-eyed susans, Canada goldenrod, St. John’s-wort, creeping buttercup and golden clover. Although there are many different types, these weeds with yellow flowers are hardy, aggressive and pesky plants that can grow in your yard, diverting essential nutrients and water away from your garden. Some weeds are small, inconspicuous and can be found in grass, while others are tall with vibrant yellow petals that are hard to miss.
If you want to maintain a healthy lawn, there are several ways to get rid of these flowering weeds with safe, simple and affordable methods. Since some can cause skin irritation or even be toxic, you should identify the kind you have before planning to remove a weed.
Common Weeds with Yellow Flowers
Bird’s Foot Trefoil
Bird’s foot trefoil is a perennial flowering plant in the pea family. Typically ranging between 12 and 24 inches in height, this herbaceous plant gets its name from its clusters of long black seed pods that resemble a bird’s foot. As the moniker trefoil implies, this weed features leaflets in groups of three. This can result in bird’s foot trefoil being mistaken for a three-leaf clover.
While bird’s foot trefoil was initially introduced to the United States to prevent erosion and to provide a food source for livestock, its drawbacks far outweigh its benefits. This non-native legume has a sprawling growth pattern and forms dense mats which can quickly smother native vegetation.
As one of the most iconic North American wildflowers, black-eyed Susans are instantly recognizable by their dark purplish-brown center cone ringed by a fringe of bright golden-yellow petals. With their vivid color, black-eyed Susans are attractive to butterflies, bees, and other insect pollinators. These long-blooming flowers can also serve as a food source for birds well into the winter months.
While black-eyed Susans are technically weeds, these low-maintenance plants are a favorite among gardeners who want to add some color to their landscape. They’re particularly useful as border plants, as their foliage is covered with coarse hairs that are unpalatable to animals like rabbits and deer who might otherwise be inclined to graze in your garden.
Canada goldenrod is a member of the Asteraceae family, which is home to several well-known varieties of flowers, including asters, daisies, and sunflowers. Many of these flowers share a similar silhouette comprised of a central disc of small florets surrounded by longer flower clusters, but Canada goldenrod has a distinct look. This native perennial features a tall, leafy stem topped with cascading clusters of tiny yellow flowers arranged in a branching, pyramid shape.
Canada goldenrod is native to the northeastern and north-central parts of North America, but in other areas of the continent, it can be considered an invasive species. Its tough root system and tendency to form monocultures means this weed is one to be avoided despite the fetching frilliness of its foliage.
Common ragwort is an herbaceous perennial plant adorned with flat, daisy-like flowerheads and feathery leaves. It’s known by many other names including stinking willie and stinking nanny thanks to its strong and unpleasant odor.
There are ecological upsides and downsides to common ragwort. On the plus side, common ragwort is an important food source for multiple pollinators including the striking black and red cinnabar moth. However, it is also extremely toxic to cattle and horses which is doubly unfortunate as it is prevalent in paddocks and pastures.
Common Evening Primrose
Common evening primrose is a biennial wildflower that is native to most of the United States. These distinctive plants consist of tall, leafy stalks topped with large, delicate citrus-yellow blossoms. As its name indicates, the common evening primrose is showiest at night. Its flowers unfurl shortly before sunset and close back up by noon the following day. When the flower is on display, it emits a pleasant, lemony scent.
For centuries, Indigenous people throughout North America have utilized common evening primrose as a food source. The leaves of the plant can be consumed raw in salads or cooked like spinach. Its roots are similarly versatile in that they can be eaten raw or cooked like potatoes. The flowering stems are considered a delicacy as well, whether they are eaten raw or fried. This plant is so nutritious, that it is often distilled into oil and sold as a dietary supplement.
Common St. John’s Wort
Common St. John’s wort is an herbaceous perennial wildflower that typically reached between 12 and 54 inches in height. Appropriately enough, St. John’s wort has spots that make them easy to spot. Its narrow, lance-shaped leaves are flecked with purplish-black specks, and its yellow, star-like flowers feature tiny black dots along the edges of the petals.
St. John’s wort is a staple plant in the world of traditional folk medicine. In ancient Greece, this plant was used to treat a wide array of illnesses including nervous disorders. Because it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can be used topically to treat wounds and burns.
In more recent years, St. John’s wort has even been studied as a potential treatment for mild to moderate depression, but it’s important to keep in mind that herbal remedies are not always safe. St. John’s wort can interfere with other medications and may lead to an increased risk of serotonin syndrome, so it’s important to consult with a doctor before use.
Creeping buttercup is an herbaceous flowering perennial plant from the Ranunculaceae family. The name of the family comes from the Latin word ranunculus which means little frog. Many plants in this family, including the creeping buttercup, thrive in the same kind of moist and marshy environments where frogs make their homes. This attractive plant boasts lush deep green leaves and glossy yellow blossoms, making it an appealing choice for ornamental ground cover.
Unfortunately, the same characteristics that make creeping buttercup nice to look at also make it difficult to eradicate. As creeping buttercup blankets the surface of the land, it also sets down a system of long, deeply-penetrating roots that anchor it firmly into the soil. Manual removal is the safest and most effective method for getting rid of creeping buttercup, but this method can be incredibly physically challenging.
At first glance, creeping cinquefoil may seem to bear a strong resemblance to creeping buttercup. While both are low-growing yellow flowering plants that spread quickly and have aesthetic value as ground cover, the leaves of creeping buttercups are separated into three parts, while creeping cinquefoil bears leaves with five lobes.
Buttercups are also unscented while cinquefoil has sweet-smelling foliage reminiscent of a strawberry plant. This pleasant scent can be attributed to the fact that strawberries and cinquefoil are part of the Rosaceae family.
The similarities between creeping buttercup and creeping cinquefoil are more than just surface level. These flowering weeds have complex and stubborn root systems that require ample physical effort to uproot, but removal is critical if you want to keep creeping cinquefoil from smothering the other plants in your garden.
Cypress spurge is an herbaceous, deep-rooted perennial known for its alluring and aromatic chartreuse flowers. Originally a European species, cypress spurge was introduced to North America as an ornamental plant in the 1860s where it was frequently planted in cemeteries. As a result, it is also sometimes known as graveyard spurge or graveyard weed.
Some plants are deemed harmful solely because they are detrimental to other plants. Cypress spurge does tend to be harmful to other perennials, but it is also dangerous to humans and animals alike. Sheep don’t seem to be affected by consuming cypress spurge, but cattle and horses can become quite ill after grazing on it.
When its leaves or stems are broken, cypress spurge leaks out a milky latex sap that can cause skin irritation in humans including blisters and burns. When disposing of this weed, be sure to protect your skin and eyes to prevent injury.
Dandelions are perennial flowering plants from the Asteraceae family. In their most recognizable form, dandelions look like little fuzzy balls of fluff, but when they first bloom, these herbaceous wildflowers display silky florets in a rich, orange-yellow hue.
While many weeds take away resources from other plants, dandelions are quite helpful. They have a deep yet sprawling taproot system that pulls up nutrients from the soil and makes them available to other plants. Dandelions are also helpful in stopping the spread of erosion. However, the sturdy root system that aids in these endeavors also makes dandelions very difficult to remove.
Golden clover is an herbaceous perennial plant that flourishes in meadows and fields and along roadsides. A member of the Fabaceae family, golden clover can be identified by its cluster of minute pea-shaped flowers that start yellow and mellow into a creamy hue before deepening to an earthy brown shade. In this latter stage of coloration, the blooms look similar to dried hops. For this reason, golden clover is sometimes called hop clover.
Golden clover originated in Europe and Asia before being introduced to North America as a pasture crop in the early 19th century. While non-native species can be ecologically harmful, golden clover is not classified as an invasive species as it doesn’t appear to pose a threat to the environment. This means there’s no real need to remove golden clover for anything other than aesthetic reasons.
Lesser celandine is a low-growing herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the Ranunculaceae family. Also known as fig buttercup, this visually-appealing plant showcases dark green, heart-shaped leaves topped with lustrous yellow flowers.
Originally introduced to North America as an ornamental plant, lesser celandine has established itself as a nuisance noxious weed. This invasive species is highly poisonous and can be fatal to grazing animals including cows, horses, and sheep.
With its fibrous root system and tendency to form mats, lesser celandine is exceedingly challenging to remove. An additional tuber-based root system allows lesser celandine to continue propagating if not fully unearthed.
Marsh yellowcress is a taproot weed that can be an annual or biennial depending on growing conditions. As its name implies, marsh yellowcress thrives in damp, swampy ground and even in aquatic habitats. While many plants originate on one particular continent, the adaptable marsh yellowcress is native to Asia, Europe, North America, the Caribbean, and parts of Africa.
Distinguishing characteristics of marsh yellowcress include deeply lobed leaves, cylindrical fruit, and small, pale yellow flowers with four petals. It’s especially important to be on the lookout for this weed if you grow food, as it is particularly disruptive to crops.
Narrow-leaf plantain is a flowering plant in the Plantaginaceae family. It’s known by myriad other names, including buckhorn, English plantain, lamb’s tongue, lanceleaf plantain, ribwort, and strapleaf plantain. It would be easy to assume from its name that the narrow-leaf plantain is related to the starchy plantain fruit sometimes known as cooking bananas, but those are actually from an entirely separate genus.
Though narrow-leaf plantain isn’t related to the plantain fruit, it is edible and is popular among foragers. It is frequently used in herbal remedies, and a tea made from narrow-leaf plantain is utilized as cough medicine. The flower heads have a flavor that is similar to mushrooms and are sometimes used to make vegetarian broth.
Also known as pursley and little hogweed, common purslane is an annual plant that’s noteworthy for its versatility and nutritional content. Every part of the common purslane is edible in both raw and cooked forms. The leaves can be consumed raw in a salad or cooked in a soup or stew, where it imparts a sour and salty essence. The seeds can be eaten raw as a snack that’s rich in alpha-linolenic acid, or ground into flour.
Purslane is a succulent, which is evident by the waxy coating on its flat, oval leaves. This tenacious plant is self-pollinating and its seeds can remain viable in the soil for decades, which is great if you’re growing it for consumption. In situations where purslane is an unwanted weed though, its persistence is less admirable.
Wild radish is a flowering annual in the Brassicaceae family, which is home to a host of consumable plants including multiple varieties of mustard, crucifer, and cabbage. Unsurprisingly, wild radish is also edible and is prized among food foragers for its spicy, zesty flavor. These four-petalled flowers come in a range of colors, including a pale, creamy yellow hue that may sport deep violet veining.
Hardy and long-lived, wild radish likes to grow in vegetable fields and among field crops, like soybeans. Unfortunately, wild radish attracts a multitude of pests and diseases which can quickly spread to nearby plants and have a detrimental effect.
Yellow nutsedge is an invasive perennial weed that can easily pass for grass if you aren’t paying close attention. The grass-like appearance of this noxious weed allows it to insidiously infiltrate lawns and take over before you even know that it’s there.
If you see yellow nutsedge growing, it may be tempting to quickly uproot it. This is a mistake. Pulling nutsedge from the ground activates dormant tubers in the root system which will cause even more nutsedge to spring up. Preventing nutsedge from growing in the first place is the most effective way to manage it, but if some sneaks in you’ll need to treat it with a selective post-emergent herbicide.
Also known as wintercress, yellow rocket is an herb belonging to the mustard family. Depending on the local climate, this weed can be categorized as a biennial or a winter annual. This pretty plant features a ribbed stem adorned with shiny, dark green leaves and lacy golden flowers, and can grow between 12 and 24 inches tall.
Both the buds and flowers of yellow rocket are edible, as are the leaves when the plant is young. However, livestock who graze on it to excess may suffer from digestive distress. It can also have a deleterious effect on crops including alfalfa and various grains.
Yellow salsify is an annual and occasionally biennial flowering herb in the Asteraceae. With its round and fluffy seedhead, yellow salsify looks very similar to its close relative the dandelion. Its fuzzy appearance has led to it sometimes going by the moniker of western goatsbeard. An edible plant, yellow salsify is also sometimes known as wild oysterplant as its roots are said to have an oyster-like flavor.
This weed is particularly widespread in the US and can be found in 45 different states. Livestock and other mammals tend to avoid noshing on this plant because of its bitterness, which means it can spread unchecked in open pastures. Its prevalence has led many states to classify yellow salsify as an invasive weed.
Black medic is an annual or short-lived perennial plant that thrives in the heat of summer. Black medic is often mistaken for clover because its tightly-bunched yellow flowers are surrounded by three oval leaflets, but it’s actually a member of the legume family.
As far as weeds go, black medic is quite beneficial. This weed hosts a bacteria called rhizobium that fixes atmospheric nitrogen. Because black medic grows in dirt with low nitrogen levels, its presence ultimately improves the soil. Its nectar is also an important food source for honeybees.
Also known as cressleaf groundsel and yellowtop, butterweed is an herbaceous annual member weed. Despite its appetizing name, butterweed is not an edible plant. This yellow flowering weed is toxic when consumed by humans.
Butterweed bears a strong resemblance to daisies and black-eyed Susans, which makes sense because all three belong to the Asteraceae family. Butterweed combines the bright yellow petals of black-eyed Susans with the golden floral disc center of the daisy, which results in a splashy and sunny flower.
Garden loosestrife is an herbaceous perennial plant that is a popular ornamental thanks to its striking profile. These towering plants can grow between 20 and 59 inches high and are loaded down with massive spikes of abundant yellow primrose-like flowers with reddish-orange centers.
Though garden loosestrife is undeniably gorgeous, it’s also highly invasive in wetlands and can be catastrophic in these environmentally-fragile areas. This noxious weed is so problematic, that it is banned in the states of Connecticut and Washington.
Common Yellow Woodsorrel
Common yellow woodsorrel is an herbaceous plant that tends to congregate in woodlands and meadows. Depending on the local climate, yellow woodsorrel may be an annual or perennial plant. Also known as sourgrass and lemon clover, yellow woodsorrel is an edible plant with a pronounced tangy flavor courtesy of a high concentration of oxalic acid.
Humans may be able to consume yellow woodsorrel in moderation, but it can be toxic when consumed by cats, dogs, and some foraging livestock. It can, however, be tolerated by sheep and goats, and is sometimes called sheep’s weed.
While applied to several plant species, skeletonweed is most commonly associated with chondrilla juncea, a flowering plant in the Asteraceae family. This perennial weed is identifiable by its skinny, spindly branches that give it the skeletal appearance that inspired its name.
Skeletonweed is the bane of farmers, as this wiry plant invades fields and pastures and can cause major obstructions in harvesting machines. It’s also a known water hog that deprives competing plants of needed moisture.
Many weeds are small and unassuming, but Spanish broom is not one of them. Spanish broom is a medium-sized deciduous shrub that explodes every summer with heaps of cheerful yellow pea-like flowers. When it’s in full bloom, Spanish broom gives off a mouthwatering sweet scent that is reminiscent of honey and vanilla.
Spanish broom may look great and smell delectable, but it is still considered a noxious species in many areas. It is particularly problematic in California, as it provides plenty of fodder for wildfires.
Wild parsnip is a single-stemmed biennial flowering herb that can grow as high as five feet tall. It belongs to the Apiaceae family, which is home to many edible plants including carrot and parsley. Wild parsnips are very similar to the parsnips that you can find at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. The primary difference between wild and common parsnips is that the garden variety has a straight root that is easier to prepare for human consumption.
While the roots of wild parsnips are edible, it needs to be handled with care. The stem, leaves, flowers, and sap of wild parsnip are all very toxic and can cause skin irritation, blistering, and burns. Whether you’re harvesting wild parsnip for food or weeding it out of your garden, be sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in addition to gardening gloves.
Yellow toadflax is a perennial wildflower with a long and interesting history. In addition to being a staple in traditional folk medicine, yellow toadflax was used for centuries in Germany to create yellow dye. This plant showcases a creamy yellow flowerhead that is similar in shape to a snapdragon and topped with a dollop of rich, orange-yellow. These characteristics have led to yellow toadflax also going by the names wild snapdragon and butter-and-eggs.
You may be tempted to use these beautiful blooms in your garden, but this invasive species can easily escape the confines of your yard and aggressively spread throughout surrounding areas. For the sake of your local ecology, it’s best to select a different yellow flower instead.
How To Get Rid of Weeds with Yellow Flowers In Your Lawn
Herbicides and Chemicals
When used correctly, chemical weed killers can be an incredibly effective way to manage weeds. Over the past 125 years, there have been incredible scientific advancements in weed killing, which means herbicides are more specialized than ever before.
When it comes to getting rid of these pesky plants, there are many types of herbicides and weed killers on the market that can get the job done. Pre-emergent herbicides can be used in the early stages of weed development, and in some cases, can be applied to prevent weeds from growing in the first place. Meanwhile, post-emergent herbicides are used to kill weeds that are more advanced in the growth process.
It should be noted that there are also several different sub-types of post-emergent herbicides. Non-selective herbicides will target all plants in a given area, including grass, while selective herbicides specifically target certain types of weeds. Contact weed killers will kill any part of the plant it comes in contact with, while systemic weed killers will travel throughout the plant into the root system, making them far less likely to reoccur.
Pulling The Weeds
Manually pulling weeds from the soil may seem like the simplest method of removal, but it does require a certain degree of knowledge. The first step is to identify the type of weed you want to eradicate to see if pulling it is the best option. Weeds like yellow nutsedge can proliferate even more when pulled and should be treated using alternate means.
Once you’ve decided a weed is a good candidate for pulling, make conditions as favorable as possible. Weeds come out of damp soil much more easily than they do dry, so wait until after a rainstorm or use a hose to saturate the area that needs weeding the night before to give hard soil a chance to soften up.
Having the right tools on hand can also make the weed-pulling process much easier. Gardening gloves will protect your hands from friction burns as well as exposure to plants that may cause skin irritation. Tools like a shovel or hand rake can loosen up the dirt and help dislodge complex root systems. It’s also good to have a plastic bag on hand so you can immediately dispose of weeds and reduce their ability to potentially spread.
The term mulch refers to any material that can be laid over the surface of the soil as a ground covering. Wood chips are probably the most recognizable form of mulch, but there are many different kinds. Some organic mulch options include shredded bark, straw, and pine needles. There are also many inorganic alternatives, including gravel, landscaping fabric, and shredded rubber made from recycled tires.
While mulch can be purely decorative, there are also practical benefits to this gardening material. Mulch can conserve moisture, decrease water runoff, and help prevent erosion. Most significantly, it acts as a physical barrier by smothering weeds under the soil and preventing new weeds from invading your garden.
Cultural Controls and Lawn Health
The term cultural control refers to several practices and techniques that can help ward off weeds before they have the opportunity to become well-established on your lawn. Most weeds are opportunistic and will make their move at the first signs of inattention. Maintaining the health of your lawn is the most proactive method of weed suppression.
Using fertilizer and keeping your lawn well-watered are great cultural methods, as they encourage lush, healthy grass and leave less room for weeds to invade. Mowing your lawn regularly is another example of cultural control, but it’s important to make sure you don’t cut your grass too short. In gardens, placing plants close together gives weeds less real estate to grow and proliferate.
Tall Weeds with Yellow Flowers
The most common tall weeds with yellow flowers are Cypress spurge, yellow salsify, Canada goldenrod, Spanish broom, garden loosestrife, wild parsnip, yellow rocket and wild radish. These invasive yellow weeds can grow to be several feet tall and may be difficult to remove. When removing these flowering weeds, make sure to wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt to protect your skin since some plants can cause irritation or have sharp edges that will cut you. In some cases, you’ll want to find, identify and kill these weeds before they spread and infect your lawn or garden.
Small Weeds with Yellow Flowers
The most common small weeds with yellow flowers are creeping cinquefoil, dandelion, golden clover and purslane. These wild yellow weeds can grow in your grass, garden or other hidden areas of your yard. While generally small, these pesky plants can take space, water and nutrients from planted flowers and veggies. Some kinds can even attractive wildlife that eventually move on to eat your other garden plants. Once a proper identification has been made, remove these common weeds to avoid the aggressive spread of growth.