Canadian Thistle: Noxious Weed, Rhizome Example

Canadian Thistle (Cirsium avense)

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”.

6 Responses to Canadian Thistle: Noxious Weed, Rhizome Example

  1. PFJ says:

    Are those the same thistles that are spreading all over Southern California? Or had begun to, by the time we moved away about 15 years ago . . .

    In the sand dunes of Nipomo (which is north of Santa Barbara and Santa Maria) they dug up:

    “In 1923, pioneer filmmaker Cecil. B. DeMille built the largest set in movie history in the dunes near Guadalupe, CA, for his silent (and early Technicolor) epic, The Ten Commandments. It was called “The City of the Pharaoh.” After filming was complete, DeMille ordered that the entire set be dismantled… and secretly buried in the dunes.”

    Ozymandias of the Dunes, sounds like?

  2. Karen says:

    I wish farmers could grow hemp, industrial hemp [no THC] for clothing, paper, hemp oil. We’re behind the times when it comes to growing a plant that needs no pesticides, herbicides, instecticides because it is a weed.
    I don’t know why I thought of this…guess I was thinking of NOT a noxious weed…

  3. Do you have any lambs quarters you can send me?? Freeze it and send along?
    eheh…well, maybe just send it??

    Does it grow wild??

    Just wondered.
    Lemme know.
    No worries.

  4. someone in WI says:

    Yes, it’s us against nature — a constant battle. I fight the weeds everyday just on our little half acre with vegetable garden and perennial flowers and trees and grass. It’s lovely but wow, the weed would love to swallow it up. I’m fighting wild buckthorn, too — another noxious weed — but really, is it easy enough to kill? It wants to defeat me. I won’t let it.

    Smiled at the poem — I read that one in high school, too.

    And let me just say: I think Citygirlfriend is very lucky to have found you. And you are lucky to have found her and her sons. Don’t give up on the marriage when it gets tricky — hang in there for 5, 7, 10, 15, 25 years…. there are ups and downs and hills and valleys. Stay.

    God bless you both.

  5. Kristin says:

    Sorry, another old post. I can’t stop reading. You’re probably on this and it is a garden issue, perhaps not in the pastures but this lady is teaching young cows to eat Canadian thistle and other “noxious” weeds:

  6. curiousfarmer says:

    Thanks Kristin for the link. Yes, Kathy Voth and her system of training animals to eat weeds is fascinating. I would like to do this, but it’s down a ways on my list.

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