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There are many varieties of thistle in New Zealand,
of which Scotch Thistle was a declared a weed as far
back as 1850. Thistles grow as a rosette of leaves close
to the ground from which grow tall stems carrying the
flowers. Flowers are mainly pink-purple although there
are some yellow flowering thistles. Thistles leaves
are pale green covered with hairs and spines. Thistles
at the seedling or rosette stage are easily controlled
by non-selective herbicides such as Zero Weedspray.
During the winter months, thistles are dormant and herbicides
are relatively ineffective (as herbicides rely on the
weed being in active growth). Spring to autumn are the
best times to control thistle. Spraying at early stages
of growth is the most effective. Control of thistle
at the flowering stage or later has much reduced success.
For control of individual plants in garden beds, use
manual methods such as hoeing, making sure to remove
at least the top third of the tap root.