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Plumeless Thistle

Also known as:
Bastard Nodding Thistle, Tapapa Thistle, Welted Thistle

General description

Biennial or annual thistle < 2.5 m tall. Stems are erect and winged. Leaves are narrow, deeply divided and form flat rosette. Stems and leaves are spiny and sometimes woolly. Inflorescences are purple and borne at the end of the stems. Achenes bear pappus.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell plumeless thistle within the Auckland region.
  • You must not plant plumeless thistle within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any plumeless thistle on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Roadsides, fields, wasteland, disturbed sites, pasture.

Seeds dispersed by wind.

Aggressively infests pastures, reducing forage quality and accessibility to stock. Spines can cause injuries to humans and livestock.

Site Management

Maintaining good pasture cover can prevent establishment or suppress an infestation. Prevent overgrazing especially in summer. Other herbicides are available for selective use in pasture.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig or grub out at least the first 5cm of taproot

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical


Check for presence of agents for nodding thistle which also attack plumeless thistle:
Nodding thistle receptacle weevil (Rhinocyllus conicus)
Nodding thistle gall fly (Urophora solstitalis)
Nodding thistle crown weevil (Trichosirocalus horridus)

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications
Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user
Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant

Safety notes

Plant has spines.

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

nodding thistle
Carduus nutans

Nodding thistle has a similar rosette but has larger flowers which curve downwards

RPMP status

Whole region (Sustained Control)
Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest
Plumeless thistle - Main species image