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From all the descriptions I've read online, this looks like Canada Thistle, with the exception of the hairy stems. I live in Maryland just outside DC. My foundation beds are full of these.

Top view

Closeup of stem

Bottom of leaf

  • I never heard of a japanese doing harakiri because of a thistle in his garden - so I don't think you should shoot yourself either. – VividD May 20 '18 at 11:25
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Doesn't matter which type they are, if you didn't see them last year, now's the time to deal with them, or even if you did see them last year, in fact. Whether they're annual, biennial or perennial is irrelevant because you shouldn't ignore them; annual and biennial ones will set copious seed and pop up everywhere next year and there'll be even more of them. And absolutely not a reason to shoot yourself - maybe a reason to groan a lot, and yes, it's tiresome, but they're just plants you don't want, not a nuclear event! The way to tell which they are is to wait till the flowers arrive, but that's absolutely not a good idea. Just get them out, now, wearing thick gloves, using a garden fork, and get out as much root as you can. If they keep coming back, you may need to resort to a herbicide, but only as a last resort. Info here on how to deal with thistles (especially the Canadian type) http://homeguides.sfgate.com/way-rid-thistles-garden-100512.html

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  • Thanks. I read that if it's the Canada type, you shouldn't pull them because each time you split the root it can result in 2 more growths. I did see them last year when we moved into the house, not realizing at the time what they were or how big of a problem they were. I have been trying to stay on top of them this year, but it seems like they are literally growing faster than I can stay on top of. At least they're the annual/biennial type I would benefit from staying on top of them, but if perennial the root system might have won. I am not going to shoot myself, just being dramatic. – Jason Rubinstein May 19 '18 at 13:30
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    And totally agree with what you said about not waiting til they flower. Everything I've read online says you can identify them by the flower... there is no chance in hell I'm going to let these things flower! – Jason Rubinstein May 19 '18 at 13:31
  • I know you were joking about killing yourself! Just trying to get you to see that its not that bad... but a right pain in the proverbial, admittedly. if you look at the link provided, it specifically tells you what to do if its Canadian thistle - 'pulling', no, digging out, yes... – Bamboo May 19 '18 at 13:44

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