Perfect growing conditions lead to huge population of thistles

LAWRENCE, Kan. - They may look pretty, but thistles are a pesky weed. This year especially, they're covering the Kansas countryside.

Douglas County Public Works Parks and Vegetation Superintendent John Landon said the population boom is another problem we can blame on last year's drought.

"With the seed falling in the cracks from the drought, then wetness, then coolness, and here we are," Landon said.

He said the Public Works office has taken at least 70 complaint calls so far this year on thistles alone. Oftentimes, people report the weed growing on a neighbor's property.

It's scary for farmers because thistles can quickly overrun a field and hurt crop yields. Landon said people living in the city should also be on the lookout for thistles because their seeds are easily carried by the wind into town.

Landon said anyone who sees a thistle in their yard should act fast because the weed multiplies quickly.

"You're going to save yourself problems down the road if you take care of two or three this year instead of 30 or 40 next year," Landon said.

The seeds can survive for years so Landon expects Kansas to be thick in thistles for quite some time. He said chemical spray, mowing and pulling will all get rid of thistles.

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