mystery weed

What Is That Huge Mystery Weed?

I have a Mystery Weed. Well, I used to have one.

Well, I guess it is no longer a mystery since I have finally had it named for me. And my help came from the Facebook Group “Container Gardening-Gone to Pot” from someone who either knew the weed or knew how to search it out better than I could.

Mystery Weed - The Hypertufa Gardener

This weed intrigued me for some reason. It grew quickly and I just let it go. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but it is in a bed with Purple Coneflowers which grow about four feet tall.  And this one was passing them up!

My weed was a large fluffy and softly branching weed, not at all stiff or prickly. It resembles one of the thistle-type plants but it was not. There were little hairs along the stem and underside of the leaves but they were not “prickles” or “stickers.”

Upclose on the stem of Burnweed - The Hypertufa Gardener

I am not sure why I was so obsessed with this weed. It was sort of pretty and all lush and green. It didn’t develop a  bloom until later after I had found out what is was. The bloom was the final identification that let me know that the identity was correct.  There was a cluster of buds formed in that top center which would later emerge and branch out like a fountain. That cinched the ID.

Burnweed - The Hypertufa Gardener

American Burnweed – Erechtites hieraciifolius (fireweed)

This is a native plant to North America and gets its name from supposedly being one of the first plants to grow after a fire has burned out an area. Burnweed or fireweed is a medicinal plant and “the whole plant is medicinal” according to Henriette’s Herbal Homepage.  You can read more about it on her page.

The Hypertufa Gardener Affil Discl

And if you should be interested in books about edible plants, these may be of interest to you.

Here are some  weed identification books:

Common Backyard Weeds of the Upper Midwest

Good Weed Bad Weed: Who’s Who

Common Weeds: Coloring Book

Weeds, Control Without Poisons

The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants For Human Survival

Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants

Erechtites hieracifolia2

Now that I know the name of the plant, for some reason it makes me feel better. And I have seen more of it ( and pulled it out right away). I like to know the plants that I have growing in my garden whether I want them there or not. Can you identify with that?  I just need to know. It helps to have a manual handy to identify it.

It was the blossom that cinched the identity. This photo is from Wiki. Click on it to see the credits.

I have read that you can make a salad with leaves and flower buds. Or some teas or oils. But I am not yet into that stuff yet. These plants are supposed to aid digestion or as a cathartic. As you have read before, I am not yet into that.

But if you are, go right ahead. These are huge and leafy weeds so you certainly would get a big crop.

Have a great day!

Kim - The Hypertufa Gardener


  1. I too have this plant in my flower garden. American Burnweed. It hasn’t bloomed yet but looking forward to it. Thx for sharing. Do you know if it is a perennial? My Facebook page is Faces of Truth. I am an artist and book writer.

    1. I had my burnweed bloom but I cut off the flowers since I didn’t want it to seed. I still have a few starting that I have to dig out now and then. Congrats on the book!

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