It’s that time of year again and all of the flowers are blooming in all of their magnificent colors and varieties. It’s also time for all of the weeds to invade our beautiful flower gardens and vegetable gardens that we worked tirelessly to perfect. There is one weed in particular that is the most annoying little nuisance I have come across and that’s the Star Thistle. This “weed” is so annoying to me that I cringe every time I see it on my property.
Star Thistle is a prickly weed that isn’t even from the United States. It has invaded the country and spread its nastiness over acres and acres of beautiful land. It has particularly invaded Shasta County land and this really annoys me even more. This obnoxious weed crowds out native weeds and beautiful wildflowers everywhere. It can grow up to five feet tall and when fully grown has long spikes on it that can actually puncture your skin.
One of the most awful things about Star Thistle is that it can be poisonous to animals if they eat it. There are several different types of Star Thistle that are very abundant in the United States. The weed can be controlled by using a bug called weevils. The weevils are turned loose on to the weeds and lay their eggs on the flower head. When the larvae hatches the young eat the seeds out of the flower head. Another way to control it is by using goats of all things. Star Thistle is not poisonous to goats and they will graze on it forever, eating the flowers and spikes. This sounds crazy but a lot of people use this process. Hand weeding does not cut the weeds out at all because the roots grow several feet down into the soil. Some chemicals may be effective but only before the weed has grown mature.
There are several different ways to get rid of Star Thistle. Pull as much as you can by hand while the weed is small and then lay down several inches of mulch. This will smother the smaller roots of the thistle. You may also be able to plant other weeds to smother thistle out such as clover. The best way to rid yourself of this awful weed is by using herbicides though. When applying herbicides you will need to put it directly on the weed and saturate it. Make sure that when buying the herbicide that it is known to kill thistle and labeled to kill it. The herbicide should last for several months but it is best to apply it every few months for better protection against the thistle returning.