Noxious Weed Control

Weed Control is responsible for coordinating the efforts to control the spread of noxious weed throughout the county.  Although many plants are invasive in nature and may cause harm in different ways, not all fall into the category of "noxious".  Please read through the section below and learn about the 8 species that are currently part of our state's noxious weed list. 

*Noxious Weed Control is not to be confused with Talbot County’s Anti-Litter, Weed and Hazardous Structure Ordinance, enforced by Talbot County Planning & Permits.  For concerns related to overgrown grass, junk, debris, hazardous structures, etc. on private property, please call 410-770-8030.

About Noxious Weeds

These plant species have been declared prohibited noxious weeds in the state of Maryland.  They must be controlled by anyone owning or managing land within the state.  When these plants are mature, the seeds can be easily transported by the wind, water, and man, whether on clothes, accessories, or equipment.  Noxious weeds damage our ecosystem, affect natural resources, threaten our farmers’ production, and can lower property values due to infestations.

A noxious weed is a plant designated as such by an agricultural government authority.  Their aggressive way of reproducing make them extremely hard to control or even eradicate.  Control practices are required by law and include mowing, cultivating, and/or treating with approved herbicides.

The Federal Noxious Weed Act of 1975 gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to work with state and local agencies to inspect, seize, destroy, and/or quarantine land due to an infestation.

Contact Information

Joe Willoughby
Weed Control Coordinator
410-770-8157
jwilloughby@talbotcountymd.gov

Maryland Noxious Weed Law & Regulations

See Annotated Code

Noxious Weeds

  • Johnsongrass

    Johnsongrass is in the sorghum classification, native to Asia and Northern Africa, and can grow anywhere from 1.5ft to 7ft tall.  As a young seedling, it can resemble corn, having leaves with elongated shape and a white vein running down the middle.  The plant has spread throughout most parts of the world except Antarctica.  It is a very aggressive perennial grass that does not need the seed to spread, making it extremely hard to control.  The underground rhizomes can bring forth new sprouts, which rob good grasses and other nearby plants access to nutrients, thus accelerating the infestation rate by decreasing the population of other desirable plants nearby.

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    johnsongrass
    Example of Johnsongrass.
  • Shattercane

    A summer annual grass very closely related to Johnsongrass.  It reproduces by seed and can stand erect at 4 to 8 ft tall.  The leaves are common to forage sorghum with a distinguished whitish-green mid vein.  The seed-head is an open panicle, although a tighter pattern than that of Johnsongrass, and can produce approximately 2000 seeds on average.  The seeds “shatter” open and drop when mature. 

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    shattercane
    Example of Shattercane.
  • Canana, Bull, Plumeless, Mush/Nodding Thistle

    Native thistles are essential to maintaining enormous flocks of birds, such as Goldfinches, butterflies like the infamous Monarch, and other species.  However, the following four types are responsible for the displacement of native plants in our area and can threaten nesting patterns of game animals.

    Canada, Bull, Plumeless, and Musk, or Nodding Thistles are easily identifiable due to their lavender, or reddish-purple color, and globe-shaped flowers at maturity.  They can grow anywhere between 4 and 8 feet tall and typically bloom in the summer months.  The leaves extend down the stem in spiny wings.  They reproduce via rhizomes and seed.  The seed head can resemble a cotton ball from a distance when ready to release its seeds, which can be carried in the wind due to the white feathery fibers attached to each one.

    See images of the following:

  • Palmer Amaranth & Tall Waterhemp

    Palmer and Waterhemp are two types of pigweed that are now found in the state of Maryland.  Both of these weeds have populations that have become resistant to almost every herbicide mode of action and they pose a real threat to crop production, especially in organic production.  Unlike other pigweeds, these two do not have hairs on their stems and have distinguished leaf characteristics.  Palmer Amaranth has petioles that are as long, or longer, than the leaf blade while Waterhemp’s petioles are shorter than the leaf blades themselves.

    Other than their highly competitive and aggressive nature, Palmer and Waterhemp possess another very scary and damaging quality.  The plant can be toxic to livestock due to the presence of nitrates in the leaves.  They are also prone to absorbing excess nitrogen found in the soil.  This means that if the plants grow in an overly fertilized field, the crop may contain excess levels of nitrates, which can be toxic at times even for human consumption.

If you feel you have a noxious or invasive weed on your property that you feel that needs to be eradicated, please contact Joe Willoughby for a consultation. 

Page last modified Wednesday, January 10, 2024 11:44:34 AM