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Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense).  This plant, while called Canada thistle, is actually a European farm weed.  It is a perennial which reproduces from seed and from vegetative buds in its root system, which makes it difficult to control.  It generally begins growing on disturbed ground, such as tilled fields, overgrazed pastures, or ditch banks.  One plant can colonize an area 3 to 6 feet in diameter in 1 to 2 years (K.G. Beck).

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Photographs by Valerie Lykes