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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - June 01, 2014

From: Elgin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Problem Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Giant Thistle-Like Plant from Elgin, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a giant thistle like plant in my field we have been unable to identify. It looks like a milk thistle but it is short..only about a foot tall..stocky...and the flowers are giant..about 6 to 8 inches accross. There are two to three blooms on each plant. It looks and seeds just like thistle. The flowers are usually white or purple...help. Thank you.

ANSWER:

We are sorry, that is not enough information for us to identify your plant, especially since there is always a good chance that it is non-native. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which those plants are being grown; in your case, Bastrop or Travis County. However, it is more likely you are wondering if you should get rid of it. In most cases, the answer to that is YES! We have answered similar questions several times during the last few years, not to mention in the last few weeks, so apparently this is a bad year for them. We are going to refer you first to a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer also from Central Texas, which has more links to other information, including getting rid of the darn things.

In addition to those links, here is a link to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office for Smith County on Thistle Control. While Smith County is in East Texas, the information is still good. Also, click on this link to take you to Google images of Texas thistles, a LOT of them. If you see a picture there that looks like your thistle, click on the picture and you will get some information on what it is. You can take that scientific name and find it either on our Native Plant Database or the Internet. Doesn't really make a whole lot of difference, the techniques are all pretty much the same.

 

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