The Yellow Starthistle Plant Essay

1015 words - 5 pages

“Yellow Starthistle is considered one of the most serious rangeland, grassland, and wildland weeds in the northwestern United States” (DiTomaso). Yellow Starthistle spreads very quickly and grows in any climate which is why it is very hard to manage. This weed is very common in California. Yellow Starthistle has many negative effects on animals, other plant lives, and water consumption.
Yellow Starthistle affects animal life. Although many other animals can graze this plant, Yellow Starthistle is very poisonous to horses. If the weed is ingested by horses, they will develop Nigropallidal Encephalomalacia which I s also known as chewing disease. It causes the horse to completely lose its ability to swallow. The toxins from yellow starthistle affects the brain and causes softening of the tissues. “The symptoms of yellow starthistle poisoning include inability to swallow, drowsiness, inability to eat and drink, making chewing motions with nothing in the mouth, frequent yawning, unusual behavior, including standing in unusual positions, acting as though something is caught in his throat, and chewing food and spitting it out” (Zelenko). “In northern California in 1954, it was estimated that at least 100 cases of horse poisoning by yellow starthistle occurred annually” (DiTamaso). Yellow Starthistle isn’t poisonous to all animals. Animals such as goats, cattle, sheep, mules, and burros help manage yellow starthistle by grazing. Although it is not poisonous, the weed can affect the animals due to its long, pointy thorns going into their eyes.
Yellow Starthistle also has an effect on nature. “Yellow Starthistle infestations may reduce wild life habitat and forage, displace native plants, and decrease native plant and animal diversity” (Sheley and Larson). “Yellow Starthistle depletes soil moisture and alters water cycles. Based on a conservative estimate of starthistle coverage, Gerlach (2004) estimated that yellow starthistle may cause an annual economic loss of $16 to $75 million in water conservation costs alone” (DiTomaso). 15 billion gallons of water is lost from the Sacramento River watershed each year due to yellow starthistle. “Excessive water use by yellow starthistle could decrease water levels in streams and lakes, reducing water ability for recreational activities” (DiTomaso).
As Centaurea Solstitalis, also known as yellow starthistle, takes over California, already covering more than 14 million acres, many people are trying to slow and hopefully stop the spread of this invasive plant (Gendron, Pitcairn, Schoenig, and Yacoub) .
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is an extremely significant organization that is very dedicated to stopping the yellow starthistle from spreading (Strategic Plan). They are an organization that also focuses on the impact that other invasive species have on the community. They believe that invasive plants, like yellow starthistle, take a location’s resources from the native plants, can harm...

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