Weed of the Month – Field Madder

Field madder (Sherardia arvensis)is a mat-forming, prostrate winter annual. It has four to six leaves that whorl around a square stem. It produces lavender to pale pink flowers. In addition, field madder produces fleshy roots that can be used to make a weak red dye.

Field madder in bloom.

Field madder in bloom.
Jackie Jordan, ©2023, Clemson Extension

Native to Northern Europe, this weed thrives in open disturbed sites, thin lawns, and landscape beds. Field madder is uncontrolled by mowing, but mowing can help to limit flower and seed production. Unfortunately, the use of pre-emergent herbicides cannot manage field madder.

Field madder can be managed with light cultivation in vegetable gardens and hand-pulling in landscape beds. A 3-inch layer of medium to coarse bark mulch can minimize future infestations. For more information on mulch options, see HGIC 1604, Mulch.

If field madder is a problem in your lawn, take steps to encourage a thick stand of turf. Start by having a soil test to determine if soil pH and nutrient levels are sufficient for quality turfgrass growth. For more information on soil testing, see HGIC 1652, Soil Testing.

Field madder can be controlled using post-emergent herbicides. Herbicide recommendations will vary based on site conditions. For personal guidance, please contact email the HGIC or call 1-888-656-9988.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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