In 2009, Sheridan County officially added houndstongue as a “county added noxious weed”. This requires landowners to control it on their property. Houndstongue is a biennial forb, which spreads only by seeds. Tiny reddish-purple flowers bloom up the branches, but seldom all bloom at once. The mature seeds of houndstongue are like Velcro. They stick to animals, tires, clothing, anything that passes by; spreading the seeds and starting new plants. Care should be taken to prevent the spread of houndstongue seeds to other areas in our county.
Houndstongue grows in pastures, woodland areas, roadsides, waste areas and disturbed areas. In Sheridan County, it grows in many of the same areas of the Pine Ridge that are infested with leafy spurge.
Houndstongue contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause liver cells to stop reproducing. Cattle and horses are susceptible, especially if confined in an area where houndstongue is growing. Animals may live 6 months or more after eating a lethal amount of houndstongue. Sheep are less susceptible than cattle and horses.
Since houndstongue reproduces only be seed, the control of it is not difficult. The EC-130 Guide for Weed Management in Nebraska has options for control. Applying herbicide at the rosette stage in the spring or fall will keep the plant from going to seed.
Prevention is the best method of control for houndstongue. Prevent houndstongue from going to seed, and prevent the movement of seeds to other areas.