Wyoming Natural Diversity Database Releases New Thistle Field Guide

The University of Wyoming’s Wyoming Natural Diversity Database (WYNDD) has released a new Wyoming Thistle Field Guide, designed to help those who work or recreate outdoors identify native thistles and non-natives.

Titled “Wyoming Thistle Field Guide” and published in partnership with UW Extension, the pocket guide features photos and descriptions of all 24 thistles found in the state, including all five harmful invasive species.

Author Bonnie Heidel, lead botanist for WYNND, explains that the purpose of the new publication is “to draw attention to the scourge and benefits of thistles.” The guide is intended for use statewide by weed control crews, landowners, educators, land managers and botanists. The keys, designed to guide users through the identification process step by step, are written for non-experts.

“Some of the most prevalent noxious weeds in the state are invasive thistles,” Heidel says.

If not identified and treated accordingly, invasive thistles can displace native species, degrade habitat quality, impact agriculture, and reduce land values. Native thistles, on the other hand, “provide benefits to wildlife, pollinators, and overall rangeland health,” Heidel says. Bird species and large herbivores, such as elk, also depend on native thistles as a food source. The big takeaway? Know the difference, says Heidel.

Print copies of the publication can be purchased online for $4.50 plus shipping from UW Biodiversity Institute Online or the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council website. Designed for practicality in the field, the guide features a ruler inside the cover and a sturdy spiral binding.

A free digital copy of the guide is available on line.

For additional help with plant identification, visit This site to contact a local UW Extension educator.

About the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database (WYNDD)
The Wyoming Natural Diversity Database (WYNDD) is a member of a network of similar programs known collectively as the Natural Heritage Network. Each of the 50 U.S. states, most Canadian provinces, and many Latin American countries host a network program dedicated to collecting and developing biological information on species of conservation concern and natural plant communities. Network programs use the same database methodology and software and receive technical support from an umbrella organization known as NatureServe. Most programs are housed in universities or state agencies; WYNDD operates as a service and research unit of the University of Wyoming.

About the University of Wyoming Extension
Since 1914, UW Extension has helped Wyoming citizens and communities respond to challenges and change. They have offices in each of the state’s 23 counties and the Wind River Indian Reservation. Although their roots are in agriculture, UW Extension has expanded its educational mission to encompass many contemporary challenges faced by the people of Wyoming and its rural communities. UW Extension is committed to providing lifelong learning opportunities in 4-H, agriculture, horticulture, nutrition, natural resources, community development education and more.

About the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council

The Wyoming Weed and Pest Council (WWPC) is made up of 23 weed and pest control districts in the state of Wyoming. The Council works closely with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the University of Wyoming to keep abreast of the latest technology and research available to manage nuisance weeds and pests. The overall mission is to provide unified support and leadership for the integrated management of weeds and noxious pests to protect the economic and ecological resources of the state.

Story by Wyoming Weed and Pest Council

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