Yellow starthistle is one of the most important alien invasive weeds in the western United States. It has been targeted for biological control based on the assumption that its abundance is limited by natural enemies in its native region but not in the United States. The geographic center of diversity for yellow starthistle appears to be in Turkey. This region is being explored to discover potential biological control agents; however, there is no quantitative information regarding the population density or dynamics of the plant in this region. Such information could help determine which natural enemies help suppress the plant in its land of origin. We measured densities of yellow starthistle plants and seeds during 2 yr at three locations in central Turkey. Densities of mature plants were about 4% of those measured at sites in California. Densities of capitula and seeds produced were about 60 and 65%, respectively, of those measured in California. The greatest difference between the two regions appears to be the densities of mature plants, which indicates the importance of focusing research on natural enemies that reduce plant survival.
Nomenclature: Yellow starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis L. CENSO.