Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 28° Cloudy
News >  Washington Voices

The Big, Bad Four

Noxious weeds aren’t just a problem along the Centennial Trail. They’re everywhere in Spokane County.

Take a look this weekend as you drive past untended fields or pastures, or even a vacant lot or a traffic island.

See a sea of purple, dotted with patches of yellow? Bingo. Those are the bad brothers, spotted knapweed and toadflax.

“This is a crisis of huge proportion throughout Eastern Washington, but much greater in Spokane County because so much of Spokane County is not agricultural,” said Doug Pineo, shorelines specialist for the state Department of Ecology.

Farmers have long been aware that aggressive weeds can cut into their crops and their checkbooks. Suburbanites recognize dandelions as weeds, but many think everything else is a wildflower.

Here are a few of the worst weeds in Spokane County:

Spotted knapweed is an Ebola virus of the weed world. It’s in bloom right now with pretty purple flowers - and roughly 40,000 seeds per plant. It thrives in disturbed soil, such as the gravel strips along both edges of the Centennial Trail.

Diffuse knapweed, with its little white flowers, looks almost like a cousin to baby’s breath. But it feels obnoxious, like a plant made of steel wool.

Dalmatian toadflax has a delightful yellow flower and looks like miniature snapdragons. It also has waxy leaves that give it a shield against herbicides.

Canadian thistle, a prickly beast of a plant, has lovely pink flowers.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 4 color photos

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.