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. It was hiding in the dense growth at the edge of our orchard, with plenty of sun and little traffic. Flower Description : The flower color is a pale pink-lavender, like many thistles. The pink to reddish purple flowers are produced from June until October. After you rub out all the seeds, you will see the seeds in the bottom of the bowl. When to Harvest: Shortly after flowering, the seeds mature and disperse to the wind on fluffy parachutes, like dandelion does. National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, St. 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. Zouhar, Kris. It can be dried and stored for later use. The inferior ovary is the swelled organ below the pink petals where the seed develops. 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. They can grow anywhere from 7.5 to 30 cm long. Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare) is a biennial that true to its name, has notable spines. 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. As the stem gets thicker, the wings start drying and disappearing. 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. Post-emergent herbicides include: clopyralid (Lontrel), diquat (Reward) and glyphosate (Roundup). Coarse hairs on the upper leaf surface of bull thistle (right). Why do we need this? Leaf Description:  Leaves are dark green on top and lighter color underneath almost like white felt of wool on the underside. Virginia Botanical Associates. Leaves are variable: best determined by clusters of smaller flowers and creeping root system (versus tap roots in natives). Besides the spines on the plant, I have found I collect a lot of fluff for not so many seeds. 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. But this native species—field thistle— really stands out as a very tall species, and towers over my head at about 8 feet. 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. Bull thistle spreads only by seed, while Canada thistle spreads both by seed and through an extensive, creeping root system. The pappus parts have no spines, so this process shouldn’t stick you at all. 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. 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). 2002. Nowadays, it's considered an invasive weed. Once you have a bowl of fluff and seeds, pick up small handfuls of pappus fluff and rub between your hands. Newly emerged leaves are egg-shaped and have spines along the edge. The exact means of introduction are largely unknown, but it is speculated that they were brought over in farm seeds. The Bull Thistle can take over a field in a few short years. There will not be as many as you hoped for. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Thistle was once a revered plant and flower. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 4 January 2016). Field thistle is very similar to tall thistle (C. altissimum), but usually shorter and with deeply lobed versus entire or shallowly lobed leaves. Pasture thistle (C. pumilum), unlike field thistle, doesn’t produce very many flowers. Perennial sow-thistle is a perennial weed reproducing by seed and by buds on underground roots. (Unpublished Report) Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Not common in MO. Stems . In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. Wildlife probably prefer native species: it would stand to reason. Leaves are 3 to 12 inches long, deeply lobed with coarse prickly hairs on the top and woolly hairs underneath. 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. The rosette does produce a taproot so go as deep as necessary to remove it. Knapweed seeds are also eaten by birds. Bull, musk, plumeless, and Scotch thistle (left to right). of thistle you are trying to control, as control methods differ between the two species. But thistle is an easy to identify genus and an easy to find plant. Martin, A.C., Zim, H.S., Nelson, A.L. Milk thistle was being used for medicinal purposes as long ago as the first century A.D. Canadian thistle has short apical tips—pointed, flattened, and turned outward. Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle, common thistle, or spear thistle) is listed as a noxious weed in nine US states. bull thistle . The leaves are narrow and deeply incised, with spines on the end of each leaf lobe. Photos by Matt Lavin, MSU. … Native thistle provide important habitat and food sources for native fauna. They are not the easiest to put up with while collecting due to the Bull Thistle’s defense mechanism. After the first year, this plants bolts and becomes 2-8' tall, forming occasional lateral branches that remain erect. Lobes on leaves are tipped with stout spines. The field thistle, #2 has thin out-turned needle-like … 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. This thistle plant I’m testing is a bull thistle, and the spines are huge and rigid. It has a taste somewhat like a Jerusalem artichoke, but not as nice. Additionally, the flower heads and bracts of bull thistle gradually taper to a point when compared to those of musk thistle. Canada thistle is a native to Eurasia and arrived on our continent probably before the Revolutionary War — most likely mixed in agricultural seed. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/cirvul/all.html [2016, December 4]. (1951). Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora (http://www.vaplantatlas.org). Rosettes up to 3 ft in diameter form the first year. 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. It was not a mistake that he had planted himself in the midst of a thriving rhododendron. Remember to always read the label for proper application sites and rates. (Accessed January 2016). The leaves of a bull thistle are large, woody and are flatted and basal rosette during their firs… Common in overgrazed pastures where it may form (When we first moved here, the place was overrun with thistles. 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. Many insects feed on the leaves, stems, flowers and seeds, while some songbirds also feed on thistle seeds. The more flowers that develop, the smaller they are, but that doesn’t diminish the enthusiasm of wild visitors. Townsend, J. F. (2015, April) Rare Plants Natural Heritage Technical Report 15-10. Get notified when we have news, courses, or events of interest to you. Cirsium vulgare. Bull thistle is usually a biennial, but sometimes an annual or monocarpic perennial. 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. Public and private landowners are not required to control infestations of bull thistle that occur on their property in King County. You have to really love your rehabber to collect thistle seed. Flower Description: The flower color is a pale pink-lavender, like many thistles. Tall thistle is closely related to field thistle (C. discolor), and the two can hybridize where they grow near each other. The flowers bloom and mature asynchronously–at different times– on any given plant, so keep checking back and harvesting over time. The following year the spine covered stems elongate during the summer and produce more lance shaped leaves. Wear thick gloves. 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. 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. 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. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. Identification •Many species start as a basal rosette in fall 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. Hopefully you will see the seed pull out with the pappus. 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. Tips—Pointed, flattened, and the spines are huge and rigid in fields thistle s! — most likely mixed in agricultural seed can reach a height of 3 feet flower.! Remain erect this plants bolts and becomes 2-8 ' tall, forming occasional lateral branches that remain erect s mechanism... Near each other, while some songbirds also feed on thistle seeds so go as deep as necessary to it... `` bull thistle reproduces only from seeds which germinate in the 1600s like a green pineapple to! 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