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Washington State Weeds

Rush Skeletonweed

rush skeletonweed

Chondrilla juncea • Class B

Family Name: Asteraceae family (ass-ter-AY-see-ee)
Common: Aster, daisy, or sunflower family
Genus: Chondrilla (kon-DREE-luh)  
Meaning: From the Greek, meaning endive or chicory
Species: juncea (JUN-kee-uh)

Rush Skeletonweed starts as a rosette in the fall, with leaves that resemble a dandelion and grows from 1 to 4 feet tall during the summer with 1 to 6 branching flowering stems.

Its slender, taproot can reach down 8 feet or more.

Stem bases have coarse, downward pointing brown hairs and very few leaves.

Leaves are narrow and linear in shape. The dandelion-like rosette leaves die off during flowering, leaving a skeleton-like appearance to the plant. 

Flowers are bright yellow about 3/4 inch in diameter growing at the branch tips, or along the stem in the leaf axil.  They are found individually, or in clusters of 2 to 5. The ridged petals have small teeth across their blunt ends.

Seeds are pale brown to black, with a ribbed surface and white bristles on one end which makes them easily distributed by wind. 

 Why Is it a Noxious Weed?

This species is a threat to irrigated lands, wheat areas, rangelands. Infestations impact the cattle industry because it displaces native or beneficial forage species grazed by livestock and wildlife. The plants extensive root system makes it highly competitive to crop plants for moisture and nutrients, especially nitrogen. 

Where Does it Grow?

It is found in pastures, rangeland, crop-fields, roadsides and open areas. 


A mature plant can produce 1,500 flower heads, with up to 20,000 seeds, 90% of which will germinate. Each seed has a pappus which is capable of carrying seeds up to 20 miles away. It can reduce crop yields by as much as 70 percent.  

Control Options:
  • The most effective control of Rush Skeletonweed is prevention. Above all, prevent plants from going to seed. Clip and carefully bag flower heads or buds to help prevent seeds from being produced. 
  • Hand pulling or digging is not an effective means of control for this species because of its extensive root system and its ability to produce new shoots from root fragments. 

  • Three biological control organisms, Rust Fungus, Gall Midge, and Gall Mite, have been released across Washington State where there are large populations of this plant. For information about the biological control of this or any other noxious weed, see the WSU Extension Integrated Weed Control Project.

  • Selective, translocated herbicides containing active ingredients such as Picloram and 2, 4 D  can be effective on  Rush Skeletonweed. 
  • Spot spraying with an herbicide containing the active ingredient glyphosate can also be effective means of control. Glyphosate is non-selective however, and will injure any plants that it comes in contact with. Spot applications should be applied at bud stage, prior to blooming. 
  • When using herbicides, carefully read and follow all label instructions and obey all label precautions. (Note: pesticide product registration is renewed annually and product names and formulations may vary from year to year.) 

More Information:

 Download our Flyer or visit Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board Here. Photo by Leo Michels


More Pictures:  

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