But thistle is an easy to identify genus and an easy to find plant. As mentioned earlier, they thrive in disturbed soils.) Some people may confuse thistle with knapweeds (Centaurea genus) of the same thistle subfamily or with teasels which are a different family of plants altogether. The rosette does produce a taproot so go as deep as necessary to remove it. Because control is not required in the county, it is on the list of Non-Regulated Noxious Weeds for King County. Wildlife probably prefer native species: it would stand to reason. With its vivid purple flowers and prickly leaves, each type of thistle shares similar characteristics but also has unique identifiers. Additionally, the flower heads and bracts of bull thistle gradually taper to a point when compared to those of musk thistle. 2015. Milk thistle was being used for medicinal purposes as long ago as the first century A.D. You want to peel away the stem's outer red-green layer. Do more research to make sure you are identifying your target species correctly and not harvesting a threatened species! The leaves are narrow and deeply incised, with spines on the end of each leaf lobe. Pasture thistle (C. pumilum), unlike field thistle, doesn’t produce very many flowers. Cirsium discolor, the field thistle, is a North American species of plants in the thistle tribe, within the sunflower family.It is native to thirty-three states in the United States as well four Canadian provinces. Musk thistle is similar in growth habit and appearance to Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare), however bull thistle has many hairs on the upper surface of the leaf blades unlike musk thistle which mostly lacks hairs. Rosettes up to 3 ft in diameter form the first year. Solutions are posted to the . Remember to always read the label for proper application sites and rates. American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits. Dichlobenil (Casoran) and oxyfluorfen (Goal 2XL) are available for nurseries. Bull thistle reproduces only from seeds which germinate in the spring. By entering your email, you consent to receive communications from Penn State Extension. Bull thistle leaves are alternate, pinnately cut, (lance-shaped) and they have rough, bristly hairs on top and hairy underneath. In: Fire Effects Information System, Online]. fields, burned areas, and logged areas. Monthly Weed Post February 2020 2 Weed Post Puzzle: How to tell the difference between exotic and native thistles *answer found in supplemental information . Perennial sow-thistle is a perennial weed reproducing by seed and by buds on underground roots. The pappus will bunch up as you rub and most of the seeds will fall out. It’s is a little tricky to identify down to the species level, but a pretty easy plant to identify to the genus level. Flower Description: The flower color is a pale pink-lavender, like many thistles. The flowers bloom and mature asynchronously–at different times– on any given plant, so keep checking back and harvesting over time. Field Thistle most closely resembles Tall Thistle (Cirsium altissimum), which also has soft needle-like spines on the floral bracts, hairy stems and white on the underside of leaves. The foliage of bull thistle has stiff hairs on top and a woolly appearance on the bottom; while Canada thistle is smooth on top and either smooth or hairy on the underside. National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, St. The white pappus “parachute”or “hair”, is about ¾ inch long (20+ mm). (When we first moved here, the place was overrun with thistles. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. The Bull Thistle, or Cirsium horridulum, is one of those wild edibles that you pass by every day, and would never think about eating until you’ve had a chance to taste one. During the first growing season, the plant forms a rosette. Bull thistle is usually a biennial, but sometimes an annual or monocarpic perennial. The root of bull thistle is edible cooked. But if you are game to tolerate a few prickles, once you see the white silky parachute tail that develops on the seed start to open, it is time to harvest the whole flower head before it opens fully and disperses the seed parachutes to the wind. Natives in Virginia typically do not have spines on the stem. Leaves are variable: best determined by clusters of smaller flowers and creeping root system (versus tap roots in natives). Identification •Many species start as a basal rosette in fall The Bull Thistle can take over a field in a few short years. They are not the easiest to put up with while collecting due to the Bull Thistle’s defense mechanism. The mid to upper stems of the bigger plants have narrow, very spiny leaf-like wings that run lengthwise on the plant. Tall thistle is closely related to field thistle (C. discolor), and the two can hybridize where they grow near each other. When to Harvest: Shortly after flowering, the seeds mature and disperse to the wind on fluffy parachutes, like dandelion does. If you find a stand of thistle in bloom, come back each day for a week and harvest the mature flower heads as they open. If viewed from the side it looks a little like a green pineapple (to me). If not kept under control, thistle will quickly take over a landscape. Blooms June-Oct Typically in woods, less common in fields. Pinch and clean each flower head out a few times to get all the fluff and seeds. But this native species—field thistle— really stands out as a very tall species, and towers over my head at about 8 feet. Bull thistles (Cirsium vulgare) are exactly that – bullish. PLANTS Profile - Cirsium discolor, Field Thistle Bull thistles have an erect stem that can grow from 30 to 150 cm tall with wide set branches. A rather bland flavor, the root is best used mixed with other vegetables. Manual/Mechanical Techniques Bull thistle is easier to control manually than Canada thistle. Spiny-winged, hairy stems elongate during the second year, often branched up to 7 feet tall. Some species in particular are cultivated in gardens and wildflower plantings for their aesthetic value and/or to support pollinators such as butterflies. Habitat: Perennial sow-thistle occurs throughout Ontario in cultivated fields, pastures, meadows, woodland, waste places, roadsides, gardens and occasionally in lawns. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/cirvul/all.html [2016, December 4]. Bull thistle can reach a height of 3 feet. This plant and the related entities and synonyms italicized and indented above can be weedy or invasive according to the authoritative sources noted below.This plant may be known by one or more common names in different places, and some are listed above. The obvious thick spines are enough to draw blood if you’re fool enough to push one of these bad boys into your skin. Hopefully you will see the seed pull out with the pappus. Zouhar, Kris 2001. After dry, to clean the seed out of the flower head, hold the flower head (now brown, dried sepals) in one rubber-gloved hand (to avoid the prickles)and pinch the fluffy pappus (white feathery silky fluff)  with your other hand and pull it straight out  and place it in a large bowl. Native thistle provide important habitat and food sources for native fauna. Bull thistle is a Class C Noxious Weed in Washington, first listed in 1988. You have to really love your rehabber to collect thistle seed. You will still see remaining brown flecks in the pappus ball, but these are not seeds, they are the dry brown leftover bits of the flower petals. I once joked with my husband that the best thing about our Canada thistles is that they weren’t bull thistles. 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