New Noxious Weed Found in Cowlitz County Is First Recorded Sighting in State


KALAMA — A new noxious weed was recently discovered in Kalama and is the first documented location of Turkish Thistle in Washington.

The Cowlitz County Noxious Weed Control Program is asking landowners to look out for the invasive thistle to stop the plant from spreading. The next closest documented infestation is in northeast Oregon, according to a county press release.

The county weed control program is working with landowners to survey and remove the plants before they go to seed, according to the press release. Residents who suspect they have this thistle on their property should contact the county program.

“Knowledge of all existing locations is crucial in efforts to stop this weed from infesting more lands in Cowlitz County,” the press release states. “If you have this thistle and can’t control it, please tell us, and we will find a way to help you.”

The thistle was added to Washington’s noxious weed list in 2021 because of its potential to invade pastures and meadows by crowding out native vegetation and desirable forage species, the release states. The state defines this kind of Class A noxious weed as vegetation not native to the state, located in limited areas or unrecorded and a possible serious threat.

Traits that help identify Turkish Thistle from other thistles include its spiny-winged main stems and purple narrow, compressed flowers on short stems covered in wooly hairs.

Turkish Thistle may be confused with two other Class A species, Italian Thistle and Slenderflower Thistle, which also have winged stems but different characteristics in their flowering patterns.

Turkish Thistle is an annual species growing from 3 inches to 48 inches tall. Winged stems may be unbranched or openly branched, and are loosely covered in soft woolly hairs. The leaves are lobed with spines, basal leaves are about 4 inches in length, while stem leaves are attached directly to the stem and reduce in size towards the upper stem. Non-spherical compressed purple flower heads may occur as one or in clusters of two to five flowers.

For more information or to report a thistle, Cowlitz County residents can contact the weed control program at 360-577-3117 or