Canadian Thistle is classified as a noxious weed in Wisconsin. I love the way “noxious weed” sounds. I thought weeds that are the baddest of the bad are listed as noxious. I found out it’s actually bad weeds, which are economically feasible to control. I’m shocked. It’s like the government having a most-wanted list with only relatively easy-to-catch criminals.
I can tell you why Canadian Thistle is a noxious weed on our farm. Two words: Perennial and Rhizome. Perennial means it comes up year after year in the same area. Most thistles are biennial and relatively easy to control. Don’t let the second year growth go to seed, and cut out the first year’s growth which is a rosette growing close to the ground, and you’ve got it licked. A good herbicide applied around the first of June may kill two years worth of thistles, also.
A Rhizome is a root that travels laterally underground and sends up new shoots every so often. This is a powerful weapon in a plant’s arsenal. Kentucky Bluegrass is another example of a plant which uses rhizomes to expand.
The picture below is a powerful example of rhizomes. The Canadian Thistle growing along my machine shed found a crack in the concrete and pushed up a new plant inside the shed.
It’s a continual struggle to carve out a little space of our own. Without us here, nature would overwhelm this place. It reminds me of a poem I had to memorize in High School English.
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.