Sudden infestation with this yellow flowered low-leaved tall gangly plant

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On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 15:42:03 +0000, Kay Lancaster wrote:

I didn't see songbirds eating; but I did watch this one bee with interest.

I'm not sure what it was looking for - but it kept digging away on the purple stuff (which is just about the only non-thorny thing):

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On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 15:42:03 +0000, Kay Lancaster wrote:

Hi Kay,
I have 5 gallons of concentrated 40-something percent glyphosate, so, I do have plenty to go around ... but what does "heading" mean?
I guess that means to chop off the purple 'ball' at the top?

What about the green balls that look slightly different?

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Danny D. said:

Heading -- yes, cut off the flowers (purple) and buds (green).
More often seen in the phrase 'dead heading' which is to cut off the spent (dead) flowers on an ornamental plant, so it does not 'waste' energy on setting seeds.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI

"Yes, swooping is bad."
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On Thu, 27 Jun 2013 07:50:26 -0400, Pat Kiewicz wrote:

Thanks for clarifying. I've never headed a plant before.
It seems that the seeds only last about 5 years, so, of the noxious weeds I need to deal with, this one won't be too bad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirsium_vulgare
It *only* spreads by seed, and I can prevent that with heading.
Plus, it shows itself a year earlier (as the rosette), so I *should* have pulled them last year - and then they would never have gotten to this second-year stage.
Apparently I can eat the stems, but, the kitchen already has mustard plants all over the counter, as I experiment with what is said to be tasty and what is not:

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On Thu, 27 Jun 2013 13:12:12 +0000, Danny D. wrote:

This says we can eat the roots, but, they contain "inulin", which is apparently a non-digestible starch. http://montana.plant-life.org/species/cirsium_vulga.htm
It also says the flower buds, young flowers, stems, and leaves can be eaten. Even the seeds can be eaten, roasted on a grill.
This one says the inner bark can be used to make paper: http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cirsium+vulgare
This one says the flower base can be eaten like an artichoke: http://www.survival.org.au/bf_cirsium.php
This one says the purple flower petals can be used as chewing gum and the seeds can be used to make a light oil: http://www.survivalplantsmemorycourse.com/2012/03/cirsium-vulgare-bull-thistle-prickly-vase/
For the Scots out there, it's the national emblem of Scotland (because a barefoot invading Viking stepped on one, alerting them to the attack).
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["Followup-To:" header set to rec.gardens.]

Gads! That's a 500 year supply for me!

Not just the purple, but the green "ball" underneath it. That's where the seeds are going to form.

Thistles are members of the Asteraceae, also known as the Compositae, a very large family where the individual flowers are often mistaken for "petals". The seed forming portion of the flower, the ovary, is underneath the actual flower, and inside that cluster of overlapping green bracts. And there can be literally thousands of flowers in one of these "flower-looking" inflorescences (cluster of flowers).
If you think of a dandelion "flower", it's a disk about an inch or so across when blooming. There are lots of little green leafy things surrounding each "flower", that are really bracts, modified leaves.
http://newfs.s3.amazonaws.com/taxon-images-1000s1000/Asteraceae/taraxacum-laevigatum-fl-ahaines-b.jpg shows the greenish and brownish bracts on red-seeded dandelion, a species you probably haven't met. And then you can see the yellowish things that most people think of as petals, but they're actually complete flowers... just a whole bunch of them gathered up together.
http://newfs.s3.amazonaws.com/taxon-images-1000s1000/Asteraceae/taraxacum-officinale-fl-ahaines-a.jpg See those sticky-up things with a double curlicue at the tip? those are the tips of the pistil, which, like the mustard, is a compound ovary with two carpels -- the curls are the stigmas of the flowers. T
Here's a photo of a single dandelion flower:
http://www.plingfactory.de/Science/Atlas/Kennkarten%20Pflanzen/Compositae/Taraxacum/LZ%20Einzelbluete.jpg
The curls at the top are the stigmas, and then just below that, you'll notice a thicker yellow ring. That ring is 5 stamens, fused together by their anthers, into a ring around the style of the pistil.
http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~kenr/Photos/Taraxacum2.jpg Inside the ring of stamens is the "neck" of the pistil, called the style, and way down at the bottom of the flower, you'll see something that looks like a small white sunflower "seed", which is the ovary of the flower. The white fluff is usually interpreted as sepals, modified into seed hairs. The flat yellow thing over to one side is actually 5 petals, fused together through most of their length if you look at a dandelion flower you'll see that the "petals" look like they've got teeth, and those are the tips of the real petals.
http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4038/4588893376_998b088dfe_z.jpg
So whole flower-like inflorescence has multiple flowers crowded in it (why? Probably because it's easier for pollinators to spot a big clump of little flowers than single little flowers. It also spreads the bloom time, lengthening the time when there's a chance a pollinator might pollinate it and you'd get seeds forming. Once all the flowers in the head have bloomed, the bracts close up, and you get the narrow fluff-end stage as the petals and stamens dry up and the pistils start maturing their seeds.
http://www.cepolina.com/photo/nature/plants/asteraceae/hawkweed-taraxacum/5/taraxacum-thalamus-flower.jpg
And finally, when the seeds inside the fruits are mature, the bracts drop once again and you get the fluffball stage:
http://i00.i.aliimg.com/wsphoto/v0/740200042_1/5-Packs-250-Seeds-Dandelion-Seeds-Taraxacum-Flower-Free-Shipping-E007.jpg where you can see the white hairs that were WAY down in the real flower making the downy parachutes for the matured fruits, the brown seeds.
Anyhow, your thistle heads are put together similarly, but a little different. And each of the groups of fluff are going to have a seed attached to parachute onto some new bare ground and possibly start yet another thistle.
http://www.backyardnature.net/n/09/090906cc.jpg
So that's probably more than you've ever wanted to know about the structure of Asteraceae inflorescences, or as most people think of them, "flowers". There's an incredible amount of variation in structure of flowers and inflorescences in the Asteraceae, and thistles and dandelions are just part of the story.
Oh yeah, sometime when you're really bored, ask me about dandelion sex.
Kay
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On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 15:42:03 +0000, Kay Lancaster wrote:

At first, I thought lovely thorny plant was a "Purple Starthistle", (Centaurea calcitrapa), which is an invasive weed in the San Francisco Bay Area: http://www.cal-ipc.org/ip/management/ipcw/pages/detailreport.cfm@usernumber &&surveynumber2.php
But, now I think it's a Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare), which is also prominant in the bay area, based on the fact that this looks like it: http://www.cal-ipc.org/ip/management/plant_profiles/Cirsium_vulgare.php
This site says it has a taproot and that "cut flowerheads can still develop viable seed", but I would have no idea how: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/ipc/weedinfo/cirsium.htm
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Danny D. said:

The part you cut off is still alive, for a while. The last bit of energy and moisture in the cutting is given over to finishing the development of any viable seeds.
It's not only thistles that are capable of this. I suspect that most of the plants that have this ability act like weeds in other ways, too.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI

"Yes, swooping is bad."
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On Thu, 27 Jun 2013 07:58:46 -0400, Pat Kiewicz wrote:

Well, I've read about a dozen pages on the bull thistle, and, it seems relatively easy to control (as long as you don't let it get to the level I did).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirsium_vulgare
Apparently mine are two-year old plants (for the most part).
The yearlings only form low-lying rosettes, of which I have a few. These radiating leaves don't produce a stem, so they lay below the (lawnmower) radar, but otherwise don't reproduce.
The second year is when they produce the flowers, and then when they flower, they die. The seeds don't appear to travel all that far but they have an amazing germination rate (over 90%) so I'll be weeding them for a few years to eradicate them.
The flowers are a rich nectar source, hence my bee will go hungry in the next few days:

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On Wed, 26 Jun 2013 06:43:21 -0700, Oren wrote:

Worse. Purple *thorny* thistle weed!
And, I might add, the photos below should show why I've grown to instantly hate pulling out this purple thorny thistle weed!
1. I knew these dainty rubberized garden gloves didn't stand a chance:

2. And, I instantly realized these leather & cloth gloves wouldn't work:

3. I wasn't shocked when the thorns went right thru deerskin gloves:

4. But, I was surprised thick pigskin was no match for the thorns:

5. At the pressure you need to grasp & pull, even the thicker cowhide gloves were painfully allowing thorns to puncture me:

6. I was almost out of options, when I grabbed my heavy gas welding gloves - which hadn't been used in years, so they were as stiff - and even they allowed a few thorns in - but for the most part, they were the *only* gloves that weren't too painful to use to grasp the thorny thistle plants tightly enough to pull them out of the dry ground.

Rarely have almost *all* my gloves failed me - but, the thorny purple thistle weed was a challenge that dared to be overcome!

Any neighbors must have looked at me oddly when I finally figured out how to pull them out without bleeding, as I held them up in the air in my gloved hand exalting in my thorny triumph!

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Danny D. wrote:

Wouldn't shoveling it at the root base first to loosen it help out?
--
Natural Girl //(*<*)\



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On Thu, 27 Jun 2013 10:32:42 -0500, Natural - Smoking Gun - Girl wrote:

Yes.
Due to those spines, and the fact most people don't keep gas welding gloves around the house, I don't recommend pulling them out anyway if you're faced with a clump up to your thighs of this size or bigger:

For some reason, I had it in my mind to just yank them out (like I do most weeds). It's only the *challenge of the gloves* that got me, since I pride myself on finding the best garden-use gloves for the lowest price I can locally (my hands are big so not all gloves fit).
I ended up soaking them with the garden hose, shoving the nozzle right at the root, and going down, oh, about six inches, which allowed them to be pulled out easily *with* very (very) thick (and long) gloves.

If you didn't have long and thick gloves (absolutely nothing in the box stores would protect you); you'd resort to more mechanical means.
Even with excellent gloves and a good soaking, I had to dig at one bull thistle clump with hand equipment, to get it out:

Based on my reading of the habits of bull thistle, it seems that they only live two years, and that their seeds don't generally travel all that far (only a few feet as they're very delicate).
So, had I headed the flowers, then I'd only have to worry about these yearlings (which only form low-lying rosettes):

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Danny D. wrote:

Those thorns are crazy!! I've seen something similar to those growing on the side of the highway, but I don't think anyone cares to dig them up. lol
--
Natural Girl //(*<*)\



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On Thu, 27 Jun 2013 15:05:59 -0500, Natural - Smoking Gun - Girl wrote:

That's why I own a lot of very long and thick gloves and why I've researched which are the best price for the best protection. (Hint: Welding stores have the best value in wrist-long work gloves.)

You may or may not have noticed the black stains all over those gloves. That's oxidized urushiol. The oil from the poison oak plant.

My work clothes are covered in these black splotches because the oil literally splashes on me when I'm chain sawing tunnels through the poison oak jungle.

Literally a human cannot pass without cutting through or hacking through. I used to use a machete, but, it was just too tiring.

Of course, I've also learned how to deal with avoiding, and ameliorating the inevitable rash - all of these topics we've covered in gory pictorial detail in a.h.r in the past year or so when I came out.

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Danny D. wrote:

hmmm I've never known anyone to tackle poison oak on such a gigantic level before. I'm not sure I really understand how you manage to not get the rash, tho.
--
Natural Girl //(*<*)\



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On Thu, 27 Jun 2013 14:09:40 -0700, Oren wrote:

In my younger days, hiking with running shoes, I stepped on a small fuzzy soft plant with many short puffy branches looking like cute teddy bear arms.
Ouch! Jumping Cholla. Opuntia bigelovii
I no gotta lotta lovi for that plant!
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On Fri, 28 Jun 2013 08:50:10 -0700, Oren wrote:

That's because it did!
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On Thu, 27 Jun 2013 15:05:59 -0500, Natural - Smoking Gun - Girl wrote:

Funny thing happened today when I opened the green garden recycling bin. All the nascent flowers had erupted into seeds!
http://image.bayimg.com/854d9f9f82deef8319a63e9a5e6dfd20bf7c98e2.jpg
Now I know why they said you have to collect the heads - as the Bull Thistle spends all its remaining energy making sure the seeds survive:
http://image.bayimg.com/d966555a10e524423e467af47378b3c92347c4f1.jpg
And, I can see why they said the plant only spreads a few feet, as the seed itself extremely easily falls off the downy parachute:
http://image.bayimg.com/50a9de66c000fbb95f48d3e62ee78093d0af524e.jpg
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On 6/27/2013 8:32 AM, Natural - Smoking Gun - Girl wrote:

http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?cat=2,2300,44822&pT671 http://www.leevalley.com/US/garden/page.aspx?cat=2,2160,40706&p418
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chaniarts wrote:

Nice tools!
--
Natural Girl //(*<*)\



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