Invasives: Starthistle

Discussion in 'Plants: Conservation' started by spider, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. spider

    spider Member

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    I'm hoping that some other people here have tackled starthistle and might have good pointers. I'm trying to eradicate it on 3.5 acres of hilly land that's been grazed for decades. The horses are off now (hurray!) and the clean-up begins.

    This is my first experience with starthistle and I've been delighted thus far at how cooperatively it pulls out and also by the fact that it ISN'T prickly (except for those flowerheads, of course). Also good is the still-green color in mid-June when everything else is dried and brown - easy to spot!

    I'm watching like a hawk, ready to mow the thicker patches as soon as a few flowers have started opening, but in the meantime I'm gleefully yanking hundreds (thousands?) of scattered onesies and twosies.

    I'm having FAR more fun than I thought I would, but not so much fun that I don't want it gone. Heh!
    So... has anyone else tackled this beastie? Any words of advice? I'm not willing to use herbicides or introduce bugs. Competing plants could be OK, depending on the plant. (I scattered a boat load of vetch seeds, hoping that it would help light starve the sprouting thistles - didn't seem to make any difference.)

    Hooves are gone.
    I'm pulling plants.
    I plan to mow.

    Am I missing any slam-dunk solutions?

    -Spider (fingers crossed)
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sounds like you're doing fine! The only additional suggestion is to plant some trees and shrubs that will shade it out.
     
  3. spider

    spider Member

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    One other question that I forgot with my first post:
    It appears to me that it's safe to just yank them out and drop them. The unopened flower buds don't appear to progress at all (unlike purple thistles!) and therefore they shouldn't have any viable seeds, yes? Any OPEN flowers I've been bagging and taking away, but are those unopened buds actually safe to drop in place?

    -Spider
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Should be. Even open flowers, I'd think should dry out and die before the seeds can ripen.
     
  5. spider

    spider Member

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    I know that the big purple thistles will bloom and create viable seeds from flower buds not yet bloomed with the plant was pulled (very spooky). I've also extracted seeds that look viable from starthistle seedheads that were in bloom when I pulled the plant - but the starthistles don't SEEM nearly as aggressive as the "true" thistles when it comes to getting seeds out no matter what. I was hoping for a definitive opinion from someone who has studied them.

    -Spider
     

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