This biennial plan reproduces from seeds only and lives for two years. Each plant can produce 2000 seeds per year. The sticky burr seed pods, also called beggars lice, are easily spread by wildlife and livestock. Rosettes of dark green, hairy leaves begin appearing in April and May with the plant flowering by July. 1-4’ tall, it produces small, reddish purple flowers prior to seeding.
Houndstongue carries an alkaloid poison that can kill livestock through loss of production of liver cells. Animals won’t normally graze on it, but if cured in hay, it will remain toxic. Sheep are more resistant to this plant than cattle and horses. Horses are especially susceptible and symptoms of houndstongue ingestion include loss of weight, diarrhea, convulsions and even coma.
Hand pulling individual plants will help control weed spread. You should not allow these plants to go to seed. Metsulfuron (Escort, Opensight) at 1-2 ounces per acre is effective on houndstongue any time the plant is actively growing, basically prior to late July. First year rosettes can be controlled with 2,4-D at 2 pints per acre in spring, but second year plants are not controlled well with 2,4-D.