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All Species

Bull Thistle

Cirsium vulgare
Peripitus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Why is it a problem?

  • Outcompetes native plants for nutrients, water, and space
  • Can decrease productivity of pastures and decreases suitability of foraging sites for grazers
  • Seeds spread by wind, livestock, vehicles, and machinery and in contaminated hay and crop seeds
  • Readily establishes in disturbed areas, such as roadsides and recently cleared land

How do I manage this plant?

  • Cutting plants at the stem base can be effective, but it’s best to dig as much root as possible (wear gloves)
  • Discard any flowering stems to prevent seed spread
  • Mowing causes stems to form new branches but will prevent seed production. Repeated mowing (4+ years) can weaken plants.
  • After removal, reseed/plant the area with native or non-invasive species
  • If mechanical methods are not effective, can be controlled with herbicides
  • To prevent introduction, purchase Certified Weed Free Forage

More info on species biology

Bull thistle flower and seed head: Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Bull thistle basal rosette: Michael Shepherd, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org; Stem spines detail: John Cardina, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org