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Thistle identification

 
pollinator
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Can someone help me ID these thistles please. Our pasture is being over run. They are viciously spiky - not at all like some if the smooth leaved varieties I have seen and heard of. The sheep won't touch them and we are loosing more and more land to them each year.
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Michael Cox
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Our brilliant thistle puller - using it on smaller patches and paths to clear. The whole field is too big a job by hand.
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Michael Cox
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These photos don't really do it's vicious prickles justice. We also have more nettles that I'd like and a lot of spreading Arum Maculatum (Lords and Ladies - toxic to animals, clumps spread 30cm per year and it seems nearly impossible to kill!)

I know the root of the problems is how the land has been overgrazed in the past. We have pretty much got the local shepherd on side about using some electric fencing and rotating them through the field, so the grass shouldn't ever end up quite so short and bare again. I'd also like to establish some more plant species - clovers and herbs etc... but that is a thread for another day.
 
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It looks like creeping thistle, which according to wikki is also known as Canadian thistle.
 
Michael Cox
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I agree it fits most of the description - but from what I have seen of pulling roots it is mostly tap rooted rather than spreading. It also looks like most of our plants have grown from seed, based on the spread of the smaller ones and the root systems evident.

I'm hoping that we have a biennial rather than perennial variety.
 
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Looks more like Bull Thistle.
 
Michael Cox
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Thanks Mitch, that definitely looks like a contender. Description and photo matches really well.

Biennial - forms rosettes in the first year, flowering spikes in second.

Seems to spread by seed rather than creeping.

Seems like control may be about preventing germination by making sure the grass is dense and not overgrazed in winter. Perhaps combine with topping the flowering spikes before thy seed - sharp hoe? Scythe?

Cheers again - Mike
 
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