HEPPNER — A new invasive weed has been spotted for the first time growing in southern Morrow County.

Plumeless thistle, which has previously been identified in neighboring Grant County and a few small locations in Wallowa County, was recently found by a landowner while out spraying for other types of thistle in the area.

While it may look similar to Scotch thistle or musk thistle — with their distinctive rose-colored flowers — plumeless thistle is distinct from its fellow invasive brethren. The weed can grow more than 4 feet tall, with spiny leaves measuring 4-8 inches long.

Blooms usually occur between May and July, and each plant can produce up to 1,000 seeds. Once established, plumeless thistle can degrade pasture land by crowding out more desirable forage, making it all but impossible to graze cattle.

Landowners who suspect they may have plumeless thistle on their property should call the Morrow County weed control office at 541-989-9500. Early detection and rapid response is key to controlling the weed before it can become widespread.

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