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A friend in Colorado is struggling to control a thorny, bush-like weed in her yard. She reached out to me for help in (1) identifying it and (2) controlling it with a small budget (<$100).

Location: Morrison, CO. Her property has very sandy soil and many needle-leaf trees. Morrison is in the Rockies.

The Plant: Unfortunately, the pictures she sent me aren't super useful, though I will include them here. To summarize some details I noticed from them, plus some info from our chats:

  • "Bushy" growth form (she calls them "the prickle bushes").
  • Sizeable thorns, about an inch long.
  • Very long taproots, up to 6 feet long.
  • Pink/purple stellate flowers.
  • Simple, entire, alternate, lanceolate leaves, dull green in color.
  • After pruning back a stem, it will grow back without thorns at first.
  • Tend to come up near the base of her fir trees, sometimes wrapping around the trunks.

Any and all guesses/suggestions are welcome! Thank you!

Prickle Bushes in bloom. Leaf and thorn closeup. Growth form 1. Growth form 2.

2 Answers 2

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I have no idea what the plant is, but since nothing was mentioned about not using herbicides, use herbicides, applied specifically to only those plants, to limit damage to desired plants.

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  • I've definitely considered suggesting an herbicide. My friend's only concern is the possibility of harming the trees in her yard. I'm unsure which herbicide to recommend. Aug 31, 2023 at 19:32
  • If it's a woody plant, then I suggest triclopyr (usually sold as a stump and brush killer). You brush it on the cut stems, so no spraying, no drift, and no impact on other plants.
    – Jurp
    Sep 1, 2023 at 15:23
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It might be gojiberry. They develop a long taproot, have thorns, thrive in sandy soil and send out suckers. I doubt most people would consider it a weed if they had planted it, but it certainly has all the hallmarks of weedy plant I wouldn’t want in my yard. They are also considered invasive in certain parts of the US.

I found it by cropping the photos and putting them into https://plantnet.org/en/

https://extension.usu.edu/yardandgarden/research/goji-in-the-garden

gojiberry, showing sections of leaves and a purple flower

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  • My first thought on seeing the pictures was also goji, so I think this is a good bet on an ID. The unenhanced version, with small berrie, is often used to prevent erosion on slopes.
    – susanabra
    Sep 2, 2023 at 10:50

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