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 (Unpublished Report) Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage.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