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Carthamus lanatus L.
Saffron Thistle

Sp.Pl. 2:830 (1753)
Conservation Code
Not threatened
Naturalised Status
Alien to Western Australia
Name Status

Erect, spiny annual, herb, 0.15-0.7(-0.9) m high, leaves rigid with spiny lobes. Fl. yellow, Dec or Jan to Apr. Variety of soils. Weed of crops, pastures & waste grounds.

Amanda Spooner, Descriptive Catalogue, 4 April 2000


IBRA Regions
Avon Wheatbelt, Coolgardie, Esperance Plains, Geraldton Sandplains, Jarrah Forest, Mallee, Murchison, Nullarbor, Swan Coastal Plain.
IBRA Subregions
Carlisle, Eastern Goldfield, Eastern Mallee, Eastern Murchison, Fitzgerald, Geraldton Hills, Katanning, Lesueur Sandplain, Merredin, Northern Jarrah Forest, Nullarbor Plain, Perth, Southern Cross, Southern Jarrah Forest, Western Mallee.
IMCRA Regions
Local Government Areas (LGAs)
Bridgetown-Greenbushes, Carnamah, Chittering, Cockburn, Dalwallinu, Donnybrook-Balingup, Dumbleyung, Esperance, Gnowangerup, Greater Geraldton, Harvey, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Koorda, Menzies, Moora, Northampton, Ravensthorpe, Three Springs, Toodyay, Westonia, Yilgarn.

Management Notes (for the Swan NRM Region)

Alternative Names. Distaff Thistle, Downy Safflower.

General Biology. Growth form. Herb. Life form. Annual. Reproduction. Seed. Dispersal. Water, adhesion, wind, contaminant of grain and wool. Seedbank persistence. 8 years.

Notes. Widely naturalised in warm-temperate and subtropical semi-arid areas, often on low fertility soils in areas receiving 300 to 600 mm of annual rainfall. Germinates mainly in autumn and early winter, however this can be staggered in south-west WA. Most seeds are dispersed close to the parent plant, but some remain in the persistent seed heads. Rates of dormancy can vary among populations at different locations. Most seeds germinate after the first autumn rains 1-3 years following maturation, but some seed can remain dormant and viable for up to 8 years under field conditions. Optimal emergence occurs at or just below the soil surface. Seeds are susceptible to predation by termites. Declared plant in Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and several states in the US. Targeted for biological control.

Additional information. Origin. Egypt, temperate Asia, Turkey, Europe.

Suggested method of management and control. Hand remove isolated plants through spring and early summer. Glyphosate at 50% applied by wick or spot spraying with 0.5% glyphosate provides good control. Alternatively spot spray Lontrel® 10 ml/10 L + wetting agent. Best controlled at rosette stage. An integrated program involving a combination of techniques will be most effective. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.

Management Calendar

Calendar Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Comments
Germination       O Y Y O O          
Active Growth           Y Y Y Y Y Y    
Flowering Y Y Y Y               Y  
Fruiting Y Y Y Y                  
Manual Removal Y               Y Y Y Y  
Herbicide Treatment O           Y Y Y O O O  

Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.



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