Aminopyralid efficacy on Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) and potential to injure native species was evaluated in a restored prairie at the Glacial Ridge Preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy in Polk County, MN. Canada thistle stem density was reduced from 17 to 0.1 stems m−2 10 mo after treatment (MAT) with aminopyralid applied in the fall at 120 g ha−1. Aminopyralid also altered the composition of both Canada thistle–infested and native plant communities. Aminopyralid controlled Canada thistle and removed or reduced several undesirable forb species from the restored prairie communities, such as absinth wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and perennial sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis). A number of high seral forbs were also reduced or removed by aminopyralid, including maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani) and purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea). Foliar cover of high seral forbs in the native plant community was reduced from 12.2 to 7% 22 MAT. The cover of high seral grass species, such as big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) increased after aminopyralid application in both the Canada thistle–infested and native plant communities and averaged 41.4% cover compared with only 19.4% before removal of Canada thistle. Species richness, evenness, and diversity were reduced after aminopyralid application in both Canada thistle–infested and native plant communities. However, the benefits of Canada thistle control, removal of undesirable species, and the increase in native grass cover should lead to an overall improvement in the long-term stability and composition of the restored prairie plant community, which likely outweigh the short-term effects of a Canada thistle control program.
Nomenclature: Aminopyralid; absinth wormwood, Artemisia absinthium L.; Canada thistle, Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.; perennial sowthistle, Sonchus arvensis L.; big bluestem, Andropogon gerardii Vitman; Indiangrass, Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash; maximilian sunflower, Helianthus maximiliani Schrad.; purple prairie clover, Dalea purpurea Vent.