The off-season rain of Hurricane Hilary on August 20 gave a rare opportunity for both warm-season and cool-season weeds to germinate at the same time. I thought I would take advantage by photographing the young seedlings as they came up.

I chose to post here only the weeds that I see most commonly in other yards as well. My aim is to help you identify them when they are small and easy to pull or hoe, and so you can distinguish them from seedlings that you desire, such as vegetables or wildflowers.

Warm-season weeds:


Spotted spurge, or Chamaesyce maculata, has milky sap if you break its stem.

Young spurge.
Big old spurge, now with many seeds.
Spurge has a single deep root, and pulling that up is the easiest way to remove a plant that got away from you while young.

More on spurge here.


Purslane, or Portulaca oleracea, has succulent leaves and some people eat it.

Newly sprouted purslane.
A blanket of older purslane.

But purslane seeds and spreads so much in Southern California that it can be annoying. Even so, it is otherwise harmless compared to other weeds.

More on purslane here.

Cool-season weeds:


Some of the many grasses that grow through the winter in Southern California have dangerous seeds that poke into your socks or your dog’s nose.

The grasses look so soft and innocent at first.
But later they produce seeds, some of which are barbed like this one.


Filaree is another winter weed that is pleasant except for its seed.

Young filaree is lacy and pretty. Its flowers are also good pollen sources for bees.
But filaree seeds are sharp and corkscrewed. (That’s my cat’s paw. She was curious about what I was photographing.)

There are different types of filarees (Erodium species), but they all act the same.

More on filarees here.


Bees visit thistle flowers too, and chickens enjoy eating their leaves. Yet some types are spiny and hard to garden around.

Thistle seedling with cotyledons and first true leaf.
Older thistle.

Here’s more on just one type of the many thistles.


Mallow, or Malva parviflora, is also known as cheeseweed because it makes seeds that look like wheels of cheese. This plant has a tap root as strong as a rope! So it’s best dealt with when young.

Note the heart-shaped leaf: that is the first leaf you see when mallow sprouts. (Photo at top of post shows mallow just sprouted.)
A whole lot of young mallow plants.

More on mallow here.

I’m sure you have plenty of other weeds in your garden, as do I, but let’s stop there.

What? You want more on weeds? Check out these posts:

How to outsmart garden weeds

Before killing it, name that weed

Removing bermuda grass

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