Cirsium arvense

Cirsium arvense_ Canada thistle_JM DiTomaso
Photo courtesy Joseph DiTomaso

Common names: Canada thistle

Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) is a perennial (family Asteraceae) found scattered throughout California, except in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts and the southern Sierra Nevada. Canada thistle forms dense patches which may crowd out native vegetation. This clump-forming plant reproduces by seed and vegetatively from its extensive root system. Control is difficult because root fragments as small as 1 cm can sprout to form a new plant, and seeds are dispersed by small animals, wind and human activities. Occasional cultivation may increase Canada thistle populations by dispersing root fragments, but control can be achieved with continued cultivation, mowing or hand-cutting.

Cal-IPC Rating: Moderate

Cal-IPC Assessment

Plant Assessment Form - Information gathered by Cal-IPC on the impacts, rate of spread, and distribution of invasive plants in California. Does not include management information.

Weed RIC Management Notes

  • Management Notes - Information on management techniques and effectiveness from the University of California Cooperative Extension’s Weed Research & Information Center.

Cal-IPC Newsletter Articles

Cal-IPC Symposium Presentations

  • Carrithers, V., B. Miller, et al. (2005). Aminopyralid: A new reduced risk active ingredient for control of broadleaf invasive and noxious weeds. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2005. Chico, California, California Invasive Plant Council.
  • Carrithers, V. F. (1997). Using Transline* herbicide to control invasive plants. California Exotic Pest Plant Council Symposium '97. Concord, CA.
  • Clines, J. (2005). Preventing weed spread via contaminated hay and straw. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2005. Chico, California, CA.
  • DiTomaso, J. M. (1997). Risk analysis of various weed control methods. California Exotic Pest Plant Council Symposium '97. Concord, CA.
  • Donaldson, S., W. West, et al. (2003). Getting the job done: Working within the regulatory environment at Lake Tahoe to manage weeds. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2003. Kings Beach, CA.
  • Smith, R. L., V. F. Carrithers, et al. (2006). Managing rangeland invasive plants with Aminopyralid (MilestoneTM). Cal-IPC Symposium. Rohnert Park, CA.

Other Cirsium arvense Information

  • CalPhotos - Images of plants taken mostly in California.
  • Calflora - See the distribution of this species on Calflora's map of California.
  • CalWeedMapper - Distribution information with ability to determine regional priorities.
  • Jepson Online Interchange for California Flora - Information on taxonomy, biology, and distribution from UC Berkeley's Jepson Herbarium.
  • CDFA - California official noxious weeds.
  • USDA PLANTS Database - Federal database with information on identification and distribution, and links to websites in individual states.
  • Bugwood - National database from the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia.