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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - June 09, 2014

From: bastrop, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Need to identify hemp-like plant in Bastrop, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

What is the large stalky, hemp-like plant that populates our creek bottoms and ditches here in Central Texas? It has large 5-6 in. lobed leaves, and a fibrous central stalk that gets up to 7 ft tall. It gets a flowered seed head late in growth similar to hemp. The leaves and stems are scratchy, and if broken, a whitish resin exudes. I've heard it called ragweed, or goat weed, but I know these are incorrect. Its everywhere in the Austin and Barton Creek watershed area. What is it?

ANSWER:

It’s hard to identify a plant from a written description, but if Mr. Smarty Plants were a guessing man, he’d guess that you are talking about Giant Ragweed Ambrosia trifida (Great ragweed), although the whitish resin exudate doesn’t quite fit. I broke a stem of a Ragweed plant this afternoon and the sap was red. Your description of the plant as hemp-like is apt, because  there is more than one instance of over zealous law enforcement officers busting people for having ragweed growing on their property. I’m curious as to why you think ragweed is an incorrect identification.
What we need to help identify the plant are some good photographs, but Mr. Smarty Plants is no longer able to receive images for identification. My suggestion is to go to our Identification Page   where there are several forums listed that you can send images to. Pay careful attention to the Important Notes for sending images.

Good luck.

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