According to observations of naturalists and beekeepers.
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Native to Eurasia, Russian-thistle is distributed throughout most arid and semiarid regions of the world. In North America, Russian thistle occurs from British Columbia east to Labrador and south through the conterminous United States to northern Mexico. It is most common in central and western regions of Canada and the United States, and along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Limited southern and eastern inland populations occur along with waste areas and railroad tracks. Russian-thistle is adventitious in Hawaii.
Russian-thistle is an exotic, annual, erect, xerohalophytic forb. It is highly branched and rounded in form, growing from 1 to 3 feet (0.3-1 m) in height and from 1 to 5 feet (0.3-1.5 m) in diameter. The awl-shaped, spiny-tipped leaves bear small, inconspicuous flowers in the leaf axils. The small, winged seed, retained in the leaf axils until after plant death, contains no endosperm tissue but is instead comprised of a spirally-coiled, complete embryo already containing some chlorophyll. The root system consists of a taproot, reaching 0.3 foot (1 m) or more in-depth, and extensive lateral roots. Under crowded conditions, roots are shallow.
The following seasonal development has been reported for Russian-thistle: germinates: late April - August, flowers: June - August, seeds mature: August - November, plant dies: first fall frost, seeds disseminate: late fall.