|Common name:||artichoke thistle|
|Scientific name:||Cynara cardunculus L.|
|Other scientific name/s:|
|Other common name/s:||wild artichoke, cardoon|
Catchment management authority boundaries
Regionally prohibited in the Goulburn Broken, North East and West Gippsland Catchments
Regionally controlled in the Mallee, North Central, Corangamite, Port Phillip & Westernport Catchments
Restricted in the Wimmera, Glenelg Hopkins and East Gippsland Catchments
Herbaceous plant - Forb (flowering herbaceous plant - not a grass)
Artichoke thistle is a perennial herb.
Stems are greyish-green. Mature plant stems are strongly ribbed, covered in cottony down on the underneath and branched near the top.Generally, only one stem develops from each crown but up to eight may be produced.
Leaves are greyish-green on the upper surface and covered with a dense mat of white hair underneath.
Artichoke thistle forms a basal rosette of leaves which can grow out (horizontally) to 1 m in length and 30 cm wide and sends up a stalk in the centre (or stem leaf) which is smaller, about 15 cm long.All leaves are deeply divided containing a sharp yellow-orange spine along the margins.
Florets are blue to purple with globular-shaped heads of 7-13 cm diameter. These are surrounded by a series of stout bracts, each ending in a spiny tip.
Bears no fruit but seeds range from brown to black, 6 to 8 mm long and are streaked lengthwise. They are equipped with a pappus of feathery hairs up to 4 cm long that acts as a parachute to aid dispersal.
Growth and lifecycle
Method of reproduction and disperal
Seeds from the plant are generally dispersed by wind, with most seeds only dropping a few metres from the parent plant. However, some seeds can travel up to 20 metres from the plant.
Seeds can also be spread by livestock, birds and flood.
Careless disposal of cut flowers and fragments of roots can also lead to the germination of new plants in favourable conditions. Soil movement may assist the spread of this plant.
Rate of growth and spread
The seedlings of the Artichoke Thistle germinate year round but predominately after the autumn rains.
Growth slows during winter becoming rapid during spring.
Plants may flower in the first year of growth but is generally delayed until the second summer.
Seedbank propagule persistence
Most artichoke thistle seeds can survive up to five years in the soil.
Native of the Mediterranean
Artichoke thistle prefers poorer pastures and neglected areas such as roadsides, creek and river frontages, industrial areas and waste lands. It grows mainly in medium to heavy soils and in areas where rainfall is between 500-700 mm annually.
There are many heavy infestations of this weed in Victoria.
The icons on the calendar below represent the times of year for flowering, seeding, germination, the dormancy period of Artichoke thistle and also the optimum time for treatment.
Impact on ecosystems and waterways
Artichoke thistle displaces and impacts on native grasslands.
Some small birds feed on the seeds of the artichoke thistle and are responsible for increasing the spread along plantations, watercourses and fence lines.
Agricultural and economic impacts
Artichoke thistle has its greatest impact on agricultural land.
Once established, the weed shades out most pasture species as well as drawing moisture and nutrients from the soil.
The spiny nature of the plant deters sheep and cattle from grazing near heavy infestations. However, the plant will be eaten by livestock if no other food is available.
Social value and health impacts
The plant is reported to cause contact dermatitis in some people.
Prescribed measures for the control of noxious weeds
- Application of a registered herbicide
- Physical removal
Other management techniques
Changes in land use practices and spread prevention may also support artichoke thistle management after implementing the prescribed measures above.
Parsons, W.T. and Cuthbertson, E.G. 2001, Noxious weeds of Australia, 2nd edn, Inkata Press, Melbourne & Sydney.
Department of Primary Industries, Regionally Prohibited Weed Information Sheet - Artichoke Thistle, 2010.