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Folks on this forum tipped me off to a thistle I had in my garden, and I've been treating that at least weekly for the past several months. So I figured I'd turn to y'all for help again.

white flowers starting to appear on the top close-up of sharp thorns

I've noticed a new weed, mostly distinguished by it's super sharp thorns. I was nearly unable to touch the stems of these weeds even with sheet metal gloves. They are growing tall, and are so solidly in the ground I ended up snipping them near the root because most of them I couldn't pull. Flowers appear to be white in color.

Perhaps it's possible that these are thistle too, but they are VERY different from the other, much more abundant thistle I have in my beds.

It's mid July here in the DC suburbs of Southern Maryland.

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I'm not sure what it is, other than to say it appears to be a berrying plant similar to others in the Rubus genus (blackberry and so on), but because I don't recognise it, I wouldn't advise eating any berries because for all I know, they might be toxic. Likely a berry or the seeds from it have been dropped by birds, and that's how it got there.

Like most plants in the genus, they rapidly put down long roots which become deep and woody over time - this is an occasion to get out your long handled full sized garden fork and dig out the root before it gets any bigger. Pulling it by hand without digging won't be successful, and cutting it down will encourage bigger and more widespread roots to form, with several new stems arising from them. Any invading seedlings like these should be dug out as soon as you notice them - where there's one, there may well be more over time.

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Looking at your photos, one of the plants is displaying a group of white flowers and what appears to be a round green fruit. Along with the leaf morphology and sharp spines, it looks like it is a plant commonly referred to as "horse nettle" (Solanum carolinense). It is a poisonous/toxic weed member of the tomato family - Solanaceae. It is a North American native species.

You also mention difficulty pulling them up. In addition to fruit/seed, this species of plant propagates by a spreading penetrating rhizome that is difficult to extract from the ground. Two links below give more information.

https://pestid.msu.edu/weeds-and-plant-identification/horsenettle-solanum-carolinense/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanum_carolinense

  • That is very interesting, as concerning as it may be! I've been very aggressively staying on top of the Canadian thistle, and have nearly eradicated it. But according to the Wikipedia article, I might have promoted growth of the horse nettle by removing competing weeds! – Jason Rubinstein Jul 15 '18 at 15:38
  • You might try very careful application of a herbicide spray (glyphosate) on the foliage. I find that, although it takes several days to weeks to kill them, the herbicide is systemic and does do them in. Be careful with your other plants though. I use it judiciously with poison ivy and it works. – user22542 Jul 15 '18 at 15:56
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Very much like the Bull Nettel that I have, very irritating. I carefully cut them at the ground and just leave them. You may need to do it more than once each year. Nice pachysandra .

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