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Musk Thistle Emerges As Prickly Sioux Falls Nuisance

Musk Thistle Single
(Dan Peters/KSOO)

Meet the enemy.  It was once considered a decorative plant.  In reality this is a water-sucking, ugly and pervasive noxious weed that must be stopped.  Various areas of Sioux Falls are besieged by a nuisance.

Scientists call it the Carduus nutans.  Commonly found in pastures or in untended grassy areas, most people identify it as a musk thistle.  From early June through August this scourge of the plant kingdom towers over its main competitors in height.  If left to its own devices, the musk thistle will in most cases sprout multiple blossoms and its seeds from the once radiant purple blossom then are taken by the wind to regenerate anew.

This prickly weed is considered noxious and its presence must be curtailed.  The common labor-intensive method is by extraction.  (my favorite)  Usually a spade is the best weapon.  By cutting off the above ground stalk only, there is just plant damage and the root system can still reproduce a stalk and blooms.  Get down into the soil and cut about 3-5 inches into the root system.  Make sure no part of the plant is in contact with the soil and the job is done.  However, this method is not without risk. Inevitably when you penetrate the soil with the spade, the thistle can pitch directly at you.  As it falls, it attempts to rake across your body in its last dying act.  Thistle’s Revenge we call it.

Musk Thistle Rosette
This is the Rosette stage. Especially good time to get the little devils.

Though the slower method of eradicating this menace can also be enjoyable.  Death by herbicide.  Numerous types of weed killer can do the trick.  The recipe that was passed to me by a neighbor who farmed adjacent to us was a great tool in the battle.  One gallon of diesel fuel laced with a cup of 2-4D.  If one didn’t get the job done the other would.  That’s of course for you patient types who don’t mind seeing the fruits of your labor in time-lapse fashion.

It’s a case where the old farm boy comes out in mercenary fashion.  Purple blossoms beware.  Your time is coming.


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