Cariboo Chilcotin Invasive Plant Committee | CCCIPC

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Canada Thistle

Species
Cirsium arvense

Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) is a root-creeping perennial. Thickets of thistle crowd out forage grasses in pastures and rangelands, reducing crop yields and productivity. 

Considered noxious under the BC Weed Control Act, Canada thistle is commonly found on roadsides, cultivated fields, pastures, logged forests, riverbanks, and other disturbed areas. It is a major concern in the Peace River, Omineca and Skeena areas, and is a widespread throughout the province.

Canada thistle has purple or white flowers, with stalkless, spiny, dark-green leaves, growing to 0.3-2 metres in height at maturity.

Canada thistle spreads rapidly through horizontal roots that give rise to large infestation patches nearby and out-competing native plants. Canada thistle develops seeds sparingly and may produce 1,000 to 1,500 seeds per flowering shoot. Best adapted to rich, heavy loam, clay loam, and sandy loam, it grows poorly in shaded conditions, can tolerate saline, wet, or dry soils, but does not tolerate waterlogged or poorly aerated soil. Dispersed primarily by wind, seeds can also be dispersed by water, animals, clothing, equipment, and vehicles. 

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