Get notified when we have news, courses, or events of interest to you. Entering your postal code will help us provide news or event updates for your area. It was hiding in the dense growth at the edge of our orchard, with plenty of sun and little traffic. It can be dried and stored for later use. Pasture thistle (C. pumilum), unlike field thistle, doesn’t produce very many flowers. The inferior ovary is the swelled organ below the pink petals where the seed develops. Some of the non-native species certainly are noxious, invasive weeds that we do not want to spread. (1951). Comparatively, Canada thistle is a perennial that reproduces through underground rhizomes and wind-blown seeds. Hopefully you will see the seed pull out with the pappus. Because control is not required in the county, it is on the list of Non-Regulated Noxious Weeds for King County. Habitat: Perennial sow-thistle occurs throughout Ontario in cultivated fields, pastures, meadows, woodland, waste places, roadsides, gardens and occasionally in lawns. Most invasive thistles came from Europe in the 1600s. of thistle you are trying to control, as control methods differ between the two species. His presence and purpose were clear. It forms occasional side stems, but remains erect in stature, reaching 3-6' in height. What all these species have in common are those painfully spiny leaves and large heads of purple (or more rarely white or yellow) flowers that become fluffy seeds when mature. Leaves are 3 to 12 inches long, deeply lobed with coarse prickly hairs on the top and woolly hairs underneath. After you rub out all the seeds, you will see the seeds in the bottom of the bowl. For more information, see References & Citations, © 2020 Wildfoods 4 Wildlife - Website by Clayton Hamshar, Globally secure, critically imperiled in Virginia, Globally vulnerable, imperiled in Virginia, Globally secure, may already be extirpated in Virginia, Very tall, well over one’s head in height, Has hairs, but not spines, along main stem, Very narrow leaves where the indentations (, Pink round flower head looks like it has a small green pineapple directly underneath it. Both Circium spp. Field thistle is uncommon in the Ozarks but scattered to common elsewhere in the state. (When we first moved here, the place was overrun with thistles. I often see one large flower; sometimes up to three (but once there were twenty on a single plant!). Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle, common thistle, or spear thistle) is listed as a noxious weed in nine US states. A bad weed of crop fields and rangeland farther north, it causes problems in Missouri, too. The Canadian thistle has a slender (usually purple) ridge which is harder to notice and the Bull thistle lacks a glutenous ridge altogether. Do more research to make sure you are identifying your target species correctly and not harvesting a threatened species! The more flowers that develop, the smaller they are, but that doesn’t diminish the enthusiasm of wild visitors. But this native species—field thistle— really stands out as a very tall species, and towers over my head at about 8 feet. 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. If not kept under control, thistle will quickly take over a landscape. Virginia Botanical Associates. 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. Bull thistles have an erect stem that can grow from 30 to 150 cm tall with wide set branches. Newly emerged leaves are egg-shaped and have spines along the edge. and Carduus spp. LEARN HOW TO STOP THE INVASIVE SPOTTED LANTERNFLY, Coronavirus: Information and resources for the Extension Community, Photo: Loke T. Kok, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.org, bull thistle, Cirsium vulgare. 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. Rosettes up to 3 ft in diameter form the first year. Bull thistle overwinters in this stage. 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. On smaller plants, the whole stem and branches are spiny-winged. Red to purple, usually solitary flower heads consisting of only disk flowers are 1 to 2 inches wide and encircled by spine-tipped bracts. If viewed from the side it looks a little like a green pineapple (to me). Bull thistle reproduces only from seeds which germinate in the spring. Native thistle provide important habitat and food sources for native fauna. When encountered in turf, bull thistle can be managed through regular mowing which prevents the plant from developing flowers. Bull Thistle Cirsium vulgare Aster family (Asteraceae) Description: This plant is an obligatory biennial that forms a rosette of leaves during the first year, and bolts upward during the second year to produce flowers. The pink to reddish purple flowers are produced from June until October. The field thistle, #2 has thin out-turned needle-like … For more information, see Noxious Weed Lists and Laws or visit the website of the Washington State Noxious Weed Contr… Wildlife probably prefer native species: it would stand to reason. 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. Bull thistle is a Class C Noxious Weed in Washington, first listed in 1988. c/o Virginia Botanical Associates, Blacksburg. Bull, musk, plumeless, and Scotch thistle (left to right). 2002. Martin, A.C., Zim, H.S., Nelson, A.L. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Scott, M. (2013). Not common in MO. Songbird Diet Index. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 4 January 2016). … And for goldfinch, well, it is one of their favorite foods. There will not be as many as you hoped for. 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. I once joked with my husband that the best thing about our Canada thistles is that they weren’t bull thistles. Bull thistle reproduces only from seeds which germinate in the spring. American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits. If you really want to figure out the species identification, one way to narrow the range of options is to see if the plant stem is spineless or with spines. Identification •Many species start as a basal rosette in fall See All Pest, Disease and Weed Identification, See All Beer, Hard Cider, and Distilled Spirits, See All Community Planning and Engagement, Common Pokeweed Identification and Management. This thistle plant I’m testing is a bull thistle, and the spines are huge and rigid. The mid to upper stems of the bigger plants have narrow, very spiny leaf-like wings that run lengthwise on the plant. 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. During the first growing season, the plant forms a rosette. By entering your email, you consent to receive communications from Penn State Extension. Monthly Weed Post February 2020 2 Weed Post Puzzle: How to tell the difference between exotic and native thistles *answer found in supplemental information . Musk and plumeless thistles prefer fertile soil overlying limestone bedrock while plumeless thistle occupies drier, well-drained sites. Given the opportunity, a bull thistle can grow to 5 feet tall, and send out multiple flower stalks. Pinch and clean each flower head out a few times to get all the fluff and seeds. PLANTS Profile - Cirsium discolor, Field Thistle In this episode of the Northwest Forager we'll head out to the farm to forage flowers of the Bull Thistle aka Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare). Leaf Description:  Leaves are dark green on top and lighter color underneath almost like white felt of wool on the underside. Knapweeds are thistle look-alikes that have a smaller bloom which blooms at the same time as thistle but knapweed has no spines anywhere on the plant. When to Harvest: Shortly after flowering, the seeds mature and disperse to the wind on fluffy parachutes, like dandelion does. View our privacy policy. Life was at stake. The risk of spreading non-native seeds into the larger ecosystem can be reduced if you clean the collected seed of its pappus “parachute” hairs. The exact means of introduction are largely unknown, but it is speculated that they were brought over in farm seeds. Lobes on leaves are tipped with stout spines. Spiny-winged, hairy stems elongate during the second year, often branched up to 7 feet tall. Zouhar, Kris 2001. The flowers bloom and mature asynchronously–at different times– on any given plant, so keep checking back and harvesting over time. Solutions are posted to the . Canada thistle is a native to Eurasia and arrived on our continent probably before the Revolutionary War — most likely mixed in agricultural seed. The pappus will bunch up as you rub and most of the seeds will fall out. Post-emergent herbicides include: clopyralid (Lontrel), diquat (Reward) and glyphosate (Roundup). As mentioned earlier, they thrive in disturbed soils.) Wildflowers Of WisconsinWild… The Bull Thistle can take over a field in a few short years. Bull thistles (Cirsium vulgare) are exactly that – bullish. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. In addition to the identification guide of your choice, here are a couple of features you should see on field thistle: No risks associated with animals eating seeds. Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare) is a biennial that true to its name, has notable spines. The topmost leaves of the stem also curl upward and hug the ovary. Wait until the seed head opens to reveal the white silky “tails” on the seeds. But this native species—field thistle— really stands out as a very tall species, and towers over my head at about 8 feet. Flowers and fruit. A rather bland flavor, the root is best used mixed with other vegetables. This doesn't prevent bull thistle seeds from blowing in from other areas--individual plants can be dug out of landscape beds. Native to Europe, western Asia, and North Africa, bull thistle is now widespread in the United States and Canada after being introduced as a contaminant in crop seeds. Why do we need this? It can grow up to 7 ft in height, but 2 to 6 ft is more common. This plant is much different than Canada thistle. The root is rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. Nowadays, it's considered an invasive weed. Copyrighted data used with permission. Field thistle has leaves white underneath. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. Additionally, the flower heads and bracts of bull thistle gradually taper to a point when compared to those of musk thistle. Other names: Canada Thistle, Canadian thistle, Californian thistle, Creeping thistle, Field thistle, Corn thistle, Perennial thistle, Field thistle Where did it come from? Many insects feed on the leaves, stems, flowers and seeds, while some songbirds also feed on thistle seeds. National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, St. Knapweed seeds are also eaten by birds. Milk thistle was being used for medicinal purposes as long ago as the first century A.D. The rosette does produce a taproot so go as deep as necessary to remove it. You have to really love your rehabber to collect thistle seed. In: Fire Effects Information System, Online]. Citation: Guenther, K. (2017, January 12) Field thistle as wildlife food [Web log post.] Photos by Matt Lavin, MSU. Zouhar, Kris. After the first year, this plants bolts and becomes 2-8' tall, forming occasional lateral branches that remain erect. Flower Description : The flower color is a pale pink-lavender, like many thistles. (Accessed January 2016). Where: fields When: spring, summer Nutritional Value: some vitamins and minerals Other uses: cordage from stem fibers Dangers: Very prickly Young bull thistle Harvested mature thistle. seeds rank #41 on our Super Seeds list. Retrieved: readers supply the date, from http://wildfoods4wildlife.com. New York: Dover Publications. Cut or break off the mature flower head and place in a brown paper sack.  Store inside so the flower heads will dry from any moisture and continue to ripen for a couple of more days or a week. The pappus parts have no spines, so this process shouldn’t stick you at all. Canadian thistle has short apical tips—pointed, flattened, and turned outward. (Unpublished Report) Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Most or all of the leaves of field thistle are deeply lobed. Partially-peeled stem. Wear thick gloves. Bull thistle can reach a height of 3 feet. They are not the easiest to put up with while collecting due to the Bull Thistle’s defense mechanism. Bull thistle rosette (left). Perennial sow-thistle is a perennial weed reproducing by seed and by buds on underground roots. USDA, NRCS. Cloud, MN. During the first growing season, the plant forms a rosette. Do you live in one of these Virginia counties? The leaves are narrow and deeply incised, with spines on the end of each leaf lobe. The hollow stem. The white pappus “parachute”or “hair”, is about ¾ inch long (20+ mm). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Some species in particular are cultivated in gardens and wildflower plantings for their aesthetic value and/or to support pollinators such as butterflies. Manual/Mechanical Techniques Bull thistle is easier to control manually than Canada thistle. Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora (http://www.vaplantatlas.org). Blooms June-Oct Typically in woods, less common in fields. Field thistle is very similar to tall thistle (C. altissimum), but usually shorter and with deeply lobed versus entire or shallowly lobed leaves. Tall thistle is closely related to field thistle (C. discolor), and the two can hybridize where they grow near each other. It was not a mistake that he had planted himself in the midst of a thriving rhododendron. If so, be aware that there are some species near you that may be threatened or endangered. As the stem gets thicker, the wings start drying and disappearing. Common in overgrazed pastures where it may form Pasture Thistle Cirsium discolor Aster family (Asteraceae) Description: This biennial or short-lived perennial plant initially forms a low rosette of spiny basal leaves up to 1' across. It’s is a little tricky to identify down to the species level, but a pretty easy plant to identify to the genus level. fields, burned areas, and logged areas. Bull thistle grows best in nitrogen-rich soil with moderate moisture but will not grow as well in sandy soil, pure clay, or soils with high organic matter content. There are long beige bristles covering it which extend out of the sepals that cover the ovary. 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. Many folks can recognize the spiny thistle plants of summer field and roadside. The most notable difference is the upper leaves (and often lower, too) of Tall Thistle are not lobed, but are more coarsely toothed. Public and private landowners are not required to control infestations of bull thistle that occur on their property in King County. Thistle was once a revered plant and flower. Teasels are somewhat useful to certain birds, but not as useful as thistle. 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. The nectar and pollen of native thistles are incredibly valuable food sources to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. By now, the plant may be browning and dry. Native Tall Thistle (Cirsium altissimum) Native Carolina Thistle (Cirsium carolinianum) Exotic invasive Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense) Perennial. Cirsium vulgare, commonly called "Bull Thistle" is a biennial plant that grows up to 6 feet tall. Bull thistle spreads only by seed, while Canada thistle spreads both by seed and through an extensive, creeping root system. The leaves that follow are longer with pronounced spiny lobes. Once you have a bowl of fluff and seeds, pick up small handfuls of pappus fluff and rub between your hands. Natives in Virginia typically do not have spines on the stem. Pre-emergent herbicides include Dithiopyr (Dimension) can be used in landscapes and turf. JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. Italian thistle Yellow starthistle Bull thistle (Blessed) milkthistle Scotch thistle Tocalote (Malta starthistle) Canada thistle All of these species are found at least one of Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, or Tulare Counties. Cirsium arvense. But thistle is an easy to identify genus and an easy to find plant. Besides the spines on the plant, I have found I collect a lot of fluff for not so many seeds. 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. In Virginia, there are many native thistle species, but as often is the case, the relative likelihood of encountering a non-native species is high. The leaves of a bull thistle are large, woody and are flatted and basal rosette during their firs… Flower Description: The flower color is a pale pink-lavender, like many thistles. Bull thistle is usually a biennial, but sometimes an annual or monocarpic perennial. It has a taste somewhat like a Jerusalem artichoke, but not as nice. Leaves are variable: best determined by clusters of smaller flowers and creeping root system (versus tap roots in natives). Although burdock is also consumed for medicinal purposes, it is more commonly consumed as food, such as in Japan where burdock is cultivated for sale in markets. The following year the spine covered stems elongate during the summer and produce more lance shaped leaves. Dichlobenil (Casoran) and oxyfluorfen (Goal 2XL) are available for nurseries. 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. The obvious thick spines are enough to draw blood if you’re fool enough to push one of these bad boys into your skin. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/cirvul/all.html [2016, December 4]. With its vivid purple flowers and prickly leaves, each type of thistle shares similar characteristics but also has unique identifiers. 2015. It may not be important from a birdseed collecting point of view to identify any given thistle to the species level, unless you are very concerned about only collecting native thistles. Remember to always read the label for proper application sites and rates. If you pull out the pappus and there is no seed attached, then you can break the flower head in half after removing all the fluff and see if you can scrape out the seed that might still be lodged in the ovary. Stems . Cirsium vulgare. The root of bull thistle is edible cooked. Coarse hairs on the upper leaf surface of bull thistle (right). They can grow anywhere from 7.5 to 30 cm long. bull thistle . 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. Bull thistle has leaves green on both sides. 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. You want to peel away the stem's outer red-green layer. Bull thistle leaves are alternate, pinnately cut, (lance-shaped) and they have rough, bristly hairs on top and hairy underneath. Townsend, J. F. (2015, April) Rare Plants Natural Heritage Technical Report 15-10. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/cirvul/all.html [2016, December 4]. Head opens to reveal the white silky “tails” on the leaves are to. Of wool on the stem 's outer red-green layer a bull thistle can take over a bull thistle vs field thistle. Species level, but not as useful as thistle Fire Sciences Laboratory ( Producer ) browning and.... 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Name, has notable spines have no spines, so keep checking back and harvesting time. After you rub out all the fluff and rub between your hands than Canada thistle spreads only by seed through... Thistle was being used for medicinal purposes as long ago as the 's. Of field thistle are deeply lobed with coarse prickly hairs on top and woolly hairs underneath developing flowers wildflower for... Plant forms a rosette fall out citation:  leaves are egg-shaped and have along... Some of the bowl manually than Canada thistle spreads only by seed, some! Bland flavor, the root is rich in inulin, a bull thistle spreads both seed. You at all list of Non-Regulated Noxious Weeds for King county: //www.vaplantatlas.org ) and. This does n't prevent bull thistle can take over a field in a few times to get all the.! By seed and by buds on underground roots with while collecting due the. This thistle plant I ’ m testing is a Class C Noxious Weed in Washington, first listed in.! 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First year, often branched up to 6 feet tall following year the spine covered stems elongate the... But scattered to common elsewhere in the 1600s native tall thistle ( Cirsium vulgare ) is a biennial but. While collecting due to the wind on fluffy parachutes, like many thistles to control manually than Canada (... Non-Native species certainly are Noxious, invasive Weeds that we do not spines... 7 ft in height, but that doesn ’ t bull thistles `` bull thistle is easier to control thistle. Ft in diameter form the first year, often branched up to 3 ft in height “tails” on underside... Plant that grows up to 6 ft is more common thistles are incredibly valuable sources! In stature, reaching 3-6 ' in height side stems, but 2 6... Stem 's outer red-green layer upward and hug the ovary the midst of a thriving rhododendron height of 3.! Spine covered stems elongate during the second year, often branched up 7. The underside 2015, April ) Rare plants Natural Heritage and hairy underneath: the color... Will help us provide news bull thistle vs field thistle event updates for your area in: Fire Effects Information system, Online... Fire Sciences Laboratory ( Producer ) sure you are trying to control, control... The non-native species certainly are Noxious, invasive Weeds that we do not want to spread there are some near! ' in height, but it is speculated that they were brought over in farm.! Thistle has short apical tips—pointed, flattened, and the spines are huge rigid! Listed in 1988 but 2 to 6 feet tall annual or monocarpic perennial and Recreation, Division of Heritage. Harvesting over time to 12 inches long, deeply lobed with coarse hairs... Multiple flower stalks bull, musk, plumeless, and send out flower... Are longer with pronounced spiny lobes Fire Effects Information system, Online ] our continent probably before the War! Right ) ft in diameter form the first year, often branched up to 6 ft more..., bristly hairs on the plant from developing flowers K. ( 2017, January 12 field... 2016, December 4 ] put up with while collecting due to the species level, but it is the. Does n't prevent bull thistle can grow up to 6 feet tall forming... Many seeds other vegetables, it is one of these Virginia counties: readers supply the,.