Also known as burning bush and summer  cypress, Mexican fireweed is a bushy annual and a member of the goosefoot family, Chenopodiaceae, that also includes cock’s comb, globe amaranth, and spinach.  It is native to Eurasia but  was introduced into the US about 1900 and is grown as an ornamental and for  forage and erosion control in the northern part of the country except the Pacific Northwest.  Plants tolerate drought and poor, rocky soil, and grow well in grassland, prairies,  scrub lands, cropland, roadsides, and unmowed areas where they can become invasive.  After the seeds ripen the plants break off at the base and become a very flammable  tumbleweed.   

Description: Growing from a taproot, Mexican fireweed develops into a rounded to conical bush three inches to six feet tall with  many-branched  striated , light green stems that carry narrow pointed leaves one to two inches long. The leaves are hairy, directly attached to the stem, and turn red as they mature.  The small green flowers appear in narrow heads at the leaf axils from mid summer to fall and produce  rough, flat, triangular seeds that remain viable in the soil for one year.  Plants reproduce by seed.

Control:Mulch to prevent seedlings from germinatin. Hoe or pull seedlings as soon as they appear, and pull, dig, cut, or mow larger plants before seed set.  Mexican fireweed is resistant to some herbicides, including 2,4-D, and glyphosate, but combinations of  pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides can be effective depending on the existing desirable vegetation.

By Karen