Common Name: Yellow Starthistle
Scientific Name: Centaurea solstitialis L.
Related Species: Other knapweeds and starthistles including the similarly yellow-flowered starthistles C. melitensis L. and C. sulphurea Willd.
All above and below ground parts of the plant must be destroyed. Additionally, no transportation, propagation, or sale of these plants is allowed. Failure to comply may result in enforcement action by the county or local municipality. Minnesota Noxious Weed Law.
Yellow starthistle is native to the Mediterranean region and was introduced to North America in contaminated seed. It is one of the most serious weed species in the West. There are no documented reports of yellow starthistle in Minnesota. If allowed to establish in Minnesota, it is probable that yellow starthistle would be highly damaging. The goal is to find and eliminate populations before they become established and spread.
Yellow starthistle thrives in sunny, open areas such as grasslands, fields of alfalfa and small grains, and roadsides. It can tolerate a wide range of soil moisture conditions.
Yellow starthistle reproduces exclusively by seed. Seeds can remain dormant in soil for 10 years. Established stands produce large amounts of seed that can be spread by wind, water, vehicles, humans, wildlife, and by moving soil, hay, or grain containing seed. There are no documented reports of yellow starthistle in Minnesota. View yellow starthistle distribution in Minnesota.
In the West, yellow starthistle is invasive and displaces desirable vegetation, forming dense monocultures. Decreases in soil moisture, forage, and plant species diversity have been documented. Infestations reduce pasture forage quality and the spines can injure the eyes, noses, and mouths of grazing animals. Yellow starthistle is toxic to horses and causes “chewing disease.” Yellow starthistle seeds can be a contaminant in harvested grain, reducing quality and value. In natural areas, yellow starthistle can substantially diminish native plant and animal diversity.
Yellow starthistle is toxic to horses and causes chewing disease. In most cases, horses die from starvation or dehydration because chewing disease results in permanent, untreatable brain damage to the fine motor control area. Yellow starthistle is not toxic to other grazing animals, including mules and burros.
MDA Noxious Weed Program
County Ag Inspectors