We have this really scary, prehistoric-looking plant growing along our east fence line.
The thing is, I kid you not, about five feet tall. The leaves are about two feet long, variegated, and covered in thorns.
Turns out, it's a Milk Thistle, an invasive from the Mediterranean area. Apparently it's got medicinal properties and is used to treat liver damage. Be that as it may, it's just... nasty-looking... and nobody around here has any liver problems.
Since the last thing I want is dozens of these giant things all over the yard next year, I put on some long sleeves, got out my heaviest gloves, and went to work on it. First, I chopped off the flowers to prevent it from going to seed. I discovered the hard way that you have to be super-careful handling any of the plant, because those spines will go right through gloves. Ouch! Eventually I chopped enough of it back so that I could see the base of the plants, and then I took a shovel and cut it off at the base (no way was I going to reach under it to get to the base, and besides, none of my clippers could get around the 5 inch stems!).
So now I have a big mound of thistle parts in my front yard. I'll probably take them to the dump later this week since I don't have any lawn bags to stuff it in, and frankly, the only safe way to handle this plant is with a shovel. I still have to dig up the roots on the plants so that they're really dead and don't come back, but I think I got them before they went to seed and so hopefully I won't have to deal with them again next year. Which is a Good Thing, because those thistles are just nasty!