Canadian Thistle/Canada Thistle (Circium arvense)
This thistle starts as a small prickly rosette. Dig the rosette out ASAP before root system gets established. Once removed, let the roots completely dry out before throwing into compost.
While biennial thistles are beginning to die, after two years the Canadian thistle has already rooted itself many feet into the ground. This is where the term creeping thistle comes in. While creeping underground more budding occurs ultimately creating a very destructive group of perennials.
This large weed has prickly hair-like structures everywhere, including stems, leaves and flower heads. The leaves are green, serrated and spiny with a silvery color on the bottom side.
Branches off the stems at the top of weed holds multiple prickly spike-like purple flowers. Flower heads are about 3/4 inches wide and have seeds are attached to tufts of hair which carry them in the wind.
Spring into summer is when flowering occurs, by early summer germination has occurred. Fall is when the root structure begins to form.
The goal for removal is to starve the root. Easier said than done as never ending persistence is required. Consider leaving area the thistle unplanted for growing season allowing focus on weed eradication.
Start by cutting off thistle stalk as closely to ground as possible. Pulling is not very effective depending on how large weed and its roots are. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing. Don't use a shovel to dig the root out. Broken roots can produce more sprouts. Keep removing sprouts regularly when they surface.
Apply solarizing black plastic mulch over area. Most rooting systems can die after a few weeks with this method. When applying method keep this physical barrier on for about 6-8 weeks.
After removing plastic there are a few options for the next step.
Apply a foliar herbicide regularly. These foliarly herbicides move down through the rooting system ultimately damaging them. Purchase these herbicides by a retailer well versed on complete instructions for use.
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