Chemical treatment is most effective on the first year rosettes of bull thistle plants. If cut too early before flowering, plants may re-sprout and flower again that season. More more effective control, cut plants with a sharp shovel at 1-2 inches below the soil surface prior to flowering. Bull thistle plants can produce approximately 7000 seeds. 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There are several herbicides that are effective on bull thistle, but it is important to carefully match the product with your site, local conditions and regulations, and other weed and land management issues, and always follow the label directions for the product you are using. Sign up for our newsletter. Tall Thistle lives up to its name, growing up to seven feet in height. What's more, one individual plant can produce up to 5,000 seeds, making it quite prolific. Additionally, native thistles are noticeably less prickly than weedy, non-native thistles, like bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare) or Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense). principle to bull thistle control is preventing seed production. Cutting off only the flower stalks will merely make the plant sprout another shoot; also, cut flower stalks left on the ground are likely to produce viable seeds, even after they are cut. On smaller plants, the whole stem and branches are spiny-winged. Most seeds germinate rapidly, usually in the spring and fall. Soil disturbance can stimulate germination and a flush of new plants. If the bull thistle population is large enough to support a good sized population of this insect, it can be an effective way to reduce seed production of the bull thistle. Coarse hairs of bull thistle (right). The flowers are located at the end of stems covered in spiny hairs. https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/cirvul/all.html Seeds buried at a depth of 5 inches may remain viable for up to three years. For more information, see Noxious Weed Lists and Laws or visit the website of the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board. The roots of this plant are taproots. Other Info: Similar to Canadian thistle, the more robust bull thistle was introduced to the United States in the 1800’s from Europe and Asia, and has now spread to 42 states, being declared a noxious weed in 16. The early leaves of its young plant are also oval with a spine-like fringe. Bull thistle is distasteful to most grazing animals, giving the thistle a competitive edge. The stubborn plant can arise like Lazarus from the ashes if hand pulling leaves behind any of the root. Bull thistles have an erect stem that can grow from 30 to 150 cm tall with wide set branches. Bull thistle seed production is impacted by the seedhead gall fly, Urophora stylata. Bull thistle reproduces only by seed. Bull thistle rosette (left). Seed/ Fruit Size: The cleaned seed itself (no pappus) is about 3/16 inch wide (2 mm) and 13/32 inch long (4 mm) and reminds me of a banana pepper in shape. Around here it’s not too hard to find a thistle plant, and our main variety is common Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare). The types of sprays used in agricultural scenarios are dicamba, glyphosate or 2,4D. Not only does the goldfinch pull the seeds out to eat; it also uses the thistle down (the pappus) to line its nest. In agricultural situations, the introduction of a bull thistle seed head gall fly has been proposed as a biological agent. As the stem gets thicker, the wings start drying and disappearing. The seeds survive in soil for more than 10 years. If only one cutting a year is possible, cut when plants are in bud for best results. Casual removal with this method is likely to leave behind the genesis of a plant in spite of the foliar amputation. Encourage bull thistle seed-head gall flies to live and breed on bull thistle plants. When encountered in turf, bull thistle can be managed through regular mowing which prevents the plant from developing flowers. Bull thistle is a Class C Noxious Weed in Washington, first listed in 1988. Comparatively, Canada thistle is a perennial that reproduces through underground rhizomes and wind-blown seeds. For grassy areas, it is best to use a selective broadleaf herbicide to keep the competitive grasses intact. Program offices are located at 201 S. Jackson St., Suite 600, Seattle, WA 98104. Carduus nemoralis E.H.L.Krause. Seeds germinate rapidly and are spread by wind. Nyjer seed also commonly known as niger or thistle seed is popular with many backyard bird species, particularly seed-eating birds and winter finches. …and without the pappus. Pennington Premium Thistle (Nyjer) Bird Seed is the single best seed for attracting colorful finches, including Goldfinches. The plant has colonized much of North America and is a pest plant in the garden and in agriculture. The white pappus “parachute”or “hair”, is about ¾ inch long (20+ mm). The second true leaf is dark green and covered densely with white hairs on the upper surface. Prevention: Bull thistle only reproduces by seed so prevention of seeding and takign care not to spread seeds are key to preventing new infestations. Learn how to get rid of bull thistle and prevent this prolific weed from taking over your garden. Bull thistle starts life as a spiny leaved rosette. There is also a weevil that is an effective control agent, but it can also affect desired thistle species. Biological control: The bull thistle seed head gall fly (Urophora stylata) lays eggs on closed flower buds in June and July. Of course, your battle with the plant will only be as effective as your neighbors because of the travel ability of the downy seeds. Herbicide Use. Spiny-winged, hairy stems elongate during the second year, often branched up to 7 feet tall. Seeds spread by wind and have high dispersal rates. This thistle plant I’m testing is a bull thistle, and the spines are huge and rigid. Stems. This plant bears leaves that end in extended, very sharp thorns and are beige in colour. Most King County offices will be closed on December 25, for Christmas Day. Bull thistle can be controlled most effectively by cutting the root several inches below the ground. Read about the presence and treatment of bull thistle after the 2012 Reading Fire. The outer rim of the flower is green and spiny itself, and contains many disk shaped flowers that are reddish-purple. Bull thistle grows in disturbed areas such as pastures, roadsides and ditches. Bull thistle plants are native to Western Asia, North America and parts of Europe. Caution: Plants have spines along leaves and stems. Though bull thistle is difficult to contain, frequent mowing before it flowers can help keep it … The main stem of this wild edible is firm and thorny. These attach themselves to any object that brushes against them. Seeds usually germinate in the spring and fall. Pull thistles before they bloom so their seeds don't spread in the wind. To contact staff, see the Noxious Weed Control Program Directory, send an email, or call 206-477-WEED (206-477-9333). Because bull thistle is so widespread, property owners in King County are not required to control it and we are not generally tracking infestations. However, it has been shown to have limited effectiveness. Hand-pull and dispose of flowering plants in trash to prevent seed spread. In this video, I show you how to identify Bull Thistle Seeds in the Fall. Also, goats and sheep have both been used for grazing management of bull thistle. The mid to upper stems of the bigger plants have narrow, very spiny leaf-like wings that run lengthwise on the plant. Bull thistle thrives in sunny areas in a variety of soil types and conditions. Thistle seed bird food is great for year-round feeding. The plant has the ability to produce around 5,000 seeds in a season. Weedy characteristics: Bull thistle is highly competitive and aggressive, and forms dense colonies that choke out native vegetation important to wildlife and pollinators. Harvest It's no wonder this species might take over a pasture in a few short years. Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare) is a plant that is related to the sunflower family but has none of the charm and beauty of those sunny-nodding flower heads. This insect will not get rid of the bull thistle, however, just reduce its impact. The seeds are one tenth to two tenths of an inch long, with plume-like bristles on the tip. The species name, altissimum, means “the tallest.”It is a biennial with a tap root, not a rhizomatous root like some agressive, non-native thistles (i.e. It is a prickly biennial that grows freely in disturbed soils, pastures, ditches, roadsides and unmanaged spaces. The seeds are short‐lived and most on or near the soil surface do not remain viable for more than a year. Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare) is a plant that is related to the sunflower family but has none of the charm and beauty of those sunny-nodding flower heads. Mechanical control: Mowed thistles will produce new branches from basal buds but close cutting or cutting twice per season will usually prevent seed production and reduce the population over time. A common type of weed most homeowners and gardeners hate to see sprouting up on their turf is thistle. Clemson University. Contaminated hay is a primary means of spread of this species so be careful to purchase weed free hay or watch closely for new plants in the areas hay is kept or spread. Seeds usu-ally germinate in the spring and fall and have a 95% germination rate. Flowers and fruit. In summer the plant grows a scented flower that resembles a spiny globe topped with fringed pink petals. Because control is not required in the county, it is on the list of Non-Regulated Noxious Weeds for King County. Writer Bio. The bull thistle is a biennially growing plant. Clemson, SC. Contaminated hay is a primary means of spread of this species so be careful to purchase weed free hay or watch closely for new plants in the areas hay is kept or spread. After spraying, wait two weeks or more to give the herbicide time to work. The Bull thistle was used by early humans as a warm medicinal tea. The seeds are wind dispersed, and they’re liable to pop up in any corner of our land that gets decent sun. Even horses will help by picking out many of the nectar-rish flowers and eating them before they go to seed. When roasted, the thistle's seeds serve as a coffee substitute. Reproduction is performed only through the seeds. Bull thistles are biennial and only bloom every two years. and get spread around with abandon. Large individuals may produce tens of thousands of wind-dispersed seeds. See the biological control page for more information. Mowing can be effective, but make sure the plants do not flower. Bull thistle seeds are numerous and straw-colored. Musk thistle and bull thistle are biennials causing major problems in perennial grass crops including pastures, roadsides, conservation reserve and fence rows. They grow from seed the first season as a rosette (a taproot with a cluster of leaves on the soil surface). Remove stems from site if plants are cut or pulled with flowers. Biennial thistles spread only by seed (achenes) that are produced in great number by all the noxious species, ran… It has a central taproot so does not spread by rhizomes. A single field thistle seed with pappus. Take care to remove the entire fleshy taproot for best results. Seeds on the surface typically do not survive for more than a year; seeds buried may remain viable for up to three years. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. Biennial thistles, such as musk (Carduus nutans L.), plumeless (Carduus acanthoides L.) and bull thistle [Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Tenore], are not as difficult to control as the perennial thistle species, but spread rapidly and can become severe problems in some areas. Red to purple, usually solitary flower heads consisting of only disk flowers are … A tough weed to kill, the flower heads on thistles possess thousands upon thousands of thistle seeds, which allows them to spread at an exponential rate both above and below the soil. Become a certified small business contractor or supplier, Find certified small business contractors and suppliers, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board, Pacific Northwest Weed Management Handbook, King County bull thistle best management practices, University of Washington Burke Museum Herbarium Image Collection - Cirsium vulgare, Branching, erect biennial, 2 to 6 feet tall, Rosettes form in first year, flowering stems the second, Long, sharp spines on the leaves at the midrib and the tips of the lobes, Leaves are deeply lobed and hairy - there are coarse hairs on leaf tops, making leaf feel rough to the touch, and woolly hairs on the underside, Leaf bases extend down onto stems and form spiny wings along the stems, Flower heads are "gumdrop" shaped and spines extend all around the base of the flower heads. The goldfinch is particularly attracted to the thistle. The plant has colonized much of North America and is a pest plant in the garden and in agriculture. It is a free-seeding weed with a prickly demeanor and rapid spread. By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist. Bull thistle control can be manual or chemical with an emphasis on seed co… The seed of bull thistle remains viable for only a few years, but structures similar to those on dandelion seeds enable new bull thistles to drift downwind into the park. For this reason, bull thistle removal is a priority among farmers and meticulous gardeners. If your site has animals grazing, please read instructions carefully on grazing restrictions. It is a prickly biennial that grows freely in disturbed soils, pastures, ditches, roadsides and unmanaged spaces. This gall fly’s larvae induce and feed on gall tissue in the developing bull thistle seedhead, reducing seed production up to 60%. Flower Seed Head. Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly. Wildflowers Of WisconsinWild… Cirsium silvaticum Tausch. (When we first moved here, the place was overrun with thistles. Cultural/grazing: Bull thistle is not as competitive in a well-managed pasture and regular cutting combined with good pasture management can reduce bull thistle to a manageable level. Again, that big Bull Thistle on the Hilton Pond Center roadside formed 50-plus flower heads--each capable of producing 250 seeds--meaning just that individual plant is theoretically capable of disseminating 12,000 seeds! Each plant has a fleshy taproot. An individual plant can produce up to 100,000 seeds. Bull thistle is a biennial plant that can grow up to six feet tall. The Bull thistle also provides seeds to granivores (consumers of grains and seeds) such as goldfinches. Those flies lay eggs in developing bull thistle flower buds. Weed Photos: Courtesy of Dr. Lambert McCarty. The leaves of a bull thistle are large, woody and are flatted and basal rosette during their firs… Digging the plant out with a spade or hori hori is the best approach to mechanical bull thistle control. For widespread control, mowing twice per year has been effective in reducing the population by preventing seed heads. Milk thistle has a mild flavor that turns bitter as the plant matures. Bull thistle control can be manual or chemical with an emphasis on seed control. As mentioned earlier, they thrive in disturbed soils.) Cirsium vulgare, the spear thistle, bull thistle, or common thistle, is a species of the Asteraceae genus Cirsium, native throughout most of Europe (north to 66°N, locally 68°N), Western Asia (east to the Yenisei Valley), and northwestern Africa ( Atlas Mountains ). Chemical control: For information on herbicides and recommendations for control, please see the Pacific Northwest Weed Management Handbook. Seeds remain viable in the soil for up to 10 years. In order to reduce the seed population, cut off the seed head and tuck it into a sack to keep the fluffy seeds from dispersing. Bull thistles (Cirsium vulgare) are exactly that – bullish. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! The hairy, prickly leaves overwinter to develop stems and branches of up to 2 feet in spring. Seedling: Cotyledons of the bull thistle are oval-shaped, being broadest at the apex. Bull thistle might be confused with native thistles as well as more serious noxious weeds such as milk thistle, a Class A noxious weed in Washington, and Canada thistle, a Class C noxious weed that is much more difficult to control. Reach a height of 3 feet are dicamba, glyphosate or 2,4D method is likely to leave behind genesis., etc and breed on bull thistle is distasteful to most grazing animals, giving bull thistle seeds a. Biennial and only bloom every two years of thousands of wind-dispersed seeds, is about ¾ inch long ( mm... 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