Shopping Center Maintenance: Is Spiny Sowthistle a Friend or Foe?

Have you ever pulled into your shopping center and noticed clusters of yellow flowers on the grassy edges? From afar, they may have looked an awful lot like dandelions. If so, chances are your commercial property is home to the spiny sowthistle. Native to North Carolina, it’s a weed that tends to show up throughout the state starting in late spring. By summer, it has formed massive seed heads. They quickly disperse with the wind, thereby adding to properties’ weed problems. As such, shopping center maintenance crews typically take steps to remove it sooner than later. However, not everyone hates spiny sowthistle. As a matter of fact, some North Carolinians love sowthistles.

Why Do Some People Love Spiny Sowthistle?

Why? Spiny sowthistles have two main, redeeming qualities. First, people like to eat the weed’s taproots, yellow flowers and 1-inch wide, elliptical shaped leaves. They claim that they’re great for salads and side dishes. Plus, some people use spiny sowthistles to season various meats. Second, spiny sowthistles emit a type of liquid latex. There are herbalists around the world that like to use the liquid latex sap for medicinal purposes. But other than that, it is rarely used for much else at this time.

Why Do Others Hate Spiny Sowthistle?

Of course other people do not have a love for spiny sowthistles. They despise how pervasive the plant can be and don’t find the upright, prickle covered weeds attractive at all. So in those cases, our shopping center maintenance team will work towards removing the plants, which isn’t easy given the seed heads. Removal methods need to be executed properly. Otherwise, spiny sowthistle will just continue to spread rapidly.

What If Shopping Centers Want Spiny Sowthistles Removed?

Hand-pulling the taproots, frequent mowing, tillage and the use of herbicides typically helps keep spiny sowthistle at bay. However, if the commercial properties next door to your shopping center do not make an effort to control spiny sowthistle too, new seeds will likely blow into the treated area. Understandably, that will require starting the removal process all over again. To learn more about ridding your shopping center of spiny sowthistle, please contact us.