Sarah Moore, integrated pest management technician with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Extension Service, said that the sowthistle is considered an invasive plant that could out-root native plants if it is not dealt with soon. A community weed pull was held Saturday, Aug. 19, on a North Douglas beach to rid the area of the intruding plant. She said additional weed pulls would be needed to ensure the plant does not return.
"The seeds are viable for years," Moore said. "To get rid of this patch is something that we'll be working on for some time. When we see a new isolated patch of an invasive plants, like the sowthistle, we try to jump on it."
Moore said invasive plants not only endanger native plants, but also usually are less nutritional for wildlife.
"There's a lot of concern about these plants coming in," she said.
There are a few theories to how invasive plants find new breeding ground, Moore said. These ideas include gardeners bringing plants that look nice, weeds rooted in potted plants and seeds being transported in shipping material or camping gear.
"A camper could roll up a tent and some seeds could get in there, and when the tent is unrolled elsewhere, the seeds are spread," Moore said.
The perennial sowthistle resembles a dandelion and stands 2-4 feet tall, she said. The leaf is covered in a prickly, hair-like substance.