How are noxious weeds spread?

What can I do?

Weeds know no boundaries.  Property lines, fences, and waterways do not stop them.  Read on to see how these invaders get around.

How weeds spread

Wind, water, wild animals, birds, livestock, vehicles, and people can all contribute to the spread of noxious weeds.  Sometimes an innocent act can be the prime opportunity for these invaders to establish a new population. 

A family may pick a bouquet of "pretty wildflowers" to use as a floral arrangement.  Surprise, they chose a handful of noxious weeds!  What happens to those flowers on the way home and after the flowers have wilted?  Seeds may shake off during transport or after the flowers are discarded.  Some weeds develop roots and produce new plants directly from plant parts left on the ground.  This can occur weeks later.  Transplanting whole plants can lead to infestations, too.  Take our quiz to test your knowledge of "wildflowers".

Vehicles or OHVs used in weed infested areas can spread weeds by transporting seeds or vegetation that becomes stuck in tire treads and other crevices.  Infestations can begin miles away as seeds drop off.  Driving vehicles off established roadways and trails can also produce bare land, perfect for the establishment of new weeds.

Luckily the Spring Creek area does not have water borne noxious plants or animals.  However, boaters should develop the habit of cleaning their boats, jet skis and trailers before transporting them from one body of water to another.

Animals are not exempt from helping noxious weeds to spread.  Seeds may stick in fur, hide and hooves.  Animal digestive systems can harbor seeds for several days before moving through.  There are specific seeds that can only develop into plants after passing through the gut of an animal or bird.  Yes, wild birds can spread noxious weeds. 

Your own clothing can harbor seeds.  How many times have you returned from an enjoyable hike then brushed off the seeds and dust from your pants or emptied the pockets of your favorite jacket in the backyard or campsite?  

Sale of nursery stock.  Believe it or not, some nurseries sell plants that are listed on Nevada's Noxious Weed List.

Poor land management practices can lead to the establishment of noxious weeds.  Scraping land to clear brush, construction, overgrazing, overuse of pesticides, and utility work without caring for the disturbed land

Remember this:  One plant can produce thousands of seeds which may remain viable for several years.

Back to Top


What can I do?

Do not pick wildflowers.

Drive only on established roads and trails away from weed infested areas.  Check your vehicle (including OHVs) for vegetative matter. 

Check boats, jet skis and trailers for clinging water plants.

Take care with animals including pack animals, dogs, livestock.  Pay attention to the environment where you will be using your animals.  If the area is weed free, help it stay that way by carrying only feed that is certified weed free.  Within 96 hours before entering back country areas, feed pack animals only food that is certified weed free.  If you have used your animals in a known infestation be sure to remove weed seeds from them by brushing thoroughly and cleaning hooves/paws before transporting. Click here for more information on the USFS Weed Free Hay Program.

Do not buy and plant nursery stock that is known to be noxious in Nevada.  Consider whether you want to grow a plant that is known to be noxious in other states.  Use only certified weed free seed (such as wildflower mixes), soil components and mulches.

Carry a weed identification book.  (available at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 701 Walnut Street, Elko, Nevada)

Report weed infestations to the landowner or manager.

If you find a few weeds without flowers or seeds and you are confident of their identification, pull them and leave them where found.  If flowers or seeds are present place them in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of properly.

If necessary take care of the noxious weeds on your own property .  SCR CWMA's help is free of charge.

Learn the most effective way to treat specific weeds.  Take a look at "Fighting Invasive Weeds -- A Northeastern Nevada Landowners Guide to Healthy Landscapes"This downloadable .pdf file is 2.25 MB.

Practice good land management.  Reseed bare soil.  Monitor for infestations.  Always read labels on pesticides and use appropriately.

Get involved with local groups that are fighting invasive weeds.

Back to Top

Return to Welcome