Have you seen these 5 weeds on your land? These aggressive invaders are blooming along roadsides, in forest preserves, and in your own backyard. To the average eye, they might seem like they are beautiful wildflowers. Meanwhile, they are stealing nutrients from and smothering our desirable plants! Beautiful bursts of yellow, purple, and white flowerheads might trick you into thinking that you have a harmless wildflower on your property. Don’t let these weeds get a grasp on your favorite plants!

Our team can help. Below, we have outlined 5 different weeds that are commonly seen in the Lake Forest area. It is easy to believe that they are wildflowers at first glance, so we encourage you to share this article with the rest of our community to help stop the spread of these invasive species.


5 Weeds That are Commonly Mistaken for Wildflowers

Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata

A garlic mustard weed on a property in Naperville, IL.

Garlic Mustard is widespread throughout the Midwest. Reaching about two to three feet high when it flowers, it has clusters of tiny four-petaled white flowers. Garlic Mustard is biennial, which means it grows in two seasons. The first year it forms a rosette of ruffled green leaves. In its second year, Garlic Mustard will flower, set seeds for the next generation, and die. Being in the mustard family, this plant produces thousands of seeds that disperse easily.

Yellow Rocket, Barbarea vulgaris

A yellow rocket weed on a property in Elkhart, IN.

Another member of the mustard family, the Yellow Rocket weed has upright clusters of bright yellow, four-petaled flowers above a rosette of dark green rounded leaves. It is also a biennial just like Garlic Mustard and flowers during the second year. Reaching about a foot high when flowering, it sets hundreds, if not thousands, of seeds.

Dame’s rocket, Hesperis matronalis

A field of dames rocket weeds on a property in Grand Rapids, MI.

Dame’s rocket is most often confused with wild or garden phlox. However, Dame’s rocket has alternate leaves and its flowers have four petals instead of five. It will flower in shades of lavender and purple in spring, giving off a cinnamon scent. Don't let it fool you, though! Dame's rocket is an invasive species, no matter how appealing it looks and smells. Just like the Garlic Mustard and Yellow Rocket weeds, this plant is also part of the mustard family. It reaches about three feet high and spreads by seed and by roots.

Wild Chervil, Anthriscus sylvestris

A field of wild chervil weeds in South Bend, IN.

Mostly found in Kane County, Wild Chervil is spreading rapidly. Standing between three and five feet tall, its flat white flowers are reminiscent of Queen Anne’s lace, but bloom earlier and are not as tightly clustered. The ferny foliage reflects its heritage in the carrot family. Wild Chervil is commonly found in roadsides, ditches, and forest edges.

Lesser Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria

A lesser celandine weed on a property in Milwaukee, WI.

A member of the buttercup family, Lesser Celandine is a bright yellow, flowering perennial that spreads by roots rather than by seed. Its rosettes of shiny green leaves are commonly found on the edges of forests. Lesser Celandines can easily be confused with the native Marsh Marigold plant, so it is important to distinguish between the two to make sure that you are not accidentally allowing an invasive species to take over. One tip to identifying Lesser Celandines is that they have narrower petals than Marsh Marigolds and green sepals.


Our company has been restoring and maintaining natural lands since 1998.

We have dedicated our life's work to ensure that natural lands like woods, prairies, and wetlands stay expertly maintained and offer resources to the wildlife around us. By removing invasive weeds like the ones above, you are helping our native species thrive and continue to provide food, hosts, and nesting materials to wildlife like vibrant birds and butterflies. If your land is located in the Lake Forest, Barrington, or Naperville, IL areas, give our team a call. We can help restore and maintain the woods, prairies, and wetlands around our community.