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Thistle Busting with Natural Areas Management

If there's noxious weeds, and it don't look good, who you gonna call? Thistle busters!

Canada thistle is on Iowa’s noxious weeds list and will spread like wildfire if left to its own devices — that’s where our thistle busters come in!

Curbing the spread of invasive and noxious plants is a main goal for our Natural Areas Management Team (NAM): Chad, Aric, Jeremy and Cory. Canada thistle is one of many thorns in their side that they treat so that our wonderful natives can thrive.

Every June when Canada thistle is blooming they comb through Pottwattamie Conservation parks and natural areas and cut it down to prevent it from seeding. Then they come back in the fall to spray because pesky Canada thistle also spreads through underground rhizomes, or rootstalks. Spraying is done with an aminopyralid herbicide by hand to prevent impact on surrounding plants and targets the root systems.

As a noxious, invasive, clonal perennial, Canada thistle isn’t messing around. Thankfully with our Natural Areas Management team’s determination, super cool backpack sprayers and patience, it doesn’t stand much of a chance on Pottwattamie Conservation-managed lands.

They ain't 'fraid of no canada thistle!

Did you know? One way to tell the difference between an invasive thistle and a native one is to check the underside of its leaves. If the underside is silver, that means it’s a valuable native.

Questions about our Natural Areas Management team or land management? Send us a note at pottconservation@pottcounty-ia.gov.

Photos taken at Farm Creek Public Wildlife Area in Carson.

A pleasant surprise!

After years of reconstructing prairie out at Farm Creek, our NAM team spotted orchid family member Spiranthes lacera, a promising sign of the ecological health of the land.

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