Musk thistle - beautiful but invasive! 6/16/12 (Dave Brotherson)
To the Musk Thistle Corps and other volunteers:
It is that time again. The invasive musk thistle is blooming. This will be the third year of control measures and we are making progress. The dense patch on the north bank of the west arm of the south lake is greatly reduced. Jon Hunstock has started cutting in that area. These thistles can be found in many places in the park and last year's crew did a great job of finding them.
If you have not done this before here are the basics. Clip off the flowering head and put it in a bucket or trash bag and take away. Last year, I put them in my compost pile. We have discovered that flowering heads can still produce a few or many viable seeds. After clipping the head, either pull the plant up by the root or cut the stalk off at the ground level. Jon tells me that the ground is soft enough after the rains to pull most of them. Leaving the root in the ground will diminish its ability to produce a flowering stalk in a year or two but it may survive. The goal is to eliminate the production of seed and eventually we should get it under control.
Wear long sleeves and heavy gloves the spines are prickly. Also, avoid contact with wild parsnip that grows in the same areas with the thistle. The plant juices from parsnip can cause blistering on bare skin.
I have a curved plant hook that works best. A sharp garden hoe or spade will also work but not as good. Let me know if you can help with this project in the next week or two.