The dry air and cooler days begins the countdown. Guarded by foreboding spines the launchpad opens to reveal an armada of airborn pioneers ready to seek out new territory for colonial conquest. For most gardeners and enthusiasts of native landscape the thistle is a dreaded invader. But is it really an invader? Well that depends.
When we think about thistle the image that most comes to mind is the Scottish thistle of legend. If you’ve never heard the story it recounts the invasion of Scotland by the Normans and its said that one of the invaders for whatever reason was barefoot and stepped on a thistle. When he cried out in pain it alerted the Scotts to the enemy’s position and the sneak attack was thwarted. Henceforth the thistle became the emblem of the Scottish and is even known in some circles as guardian thistle. How it got to America is something I’m not sure of. Most likely it was by accident. However, there’s the mystery of Cherokee blowgun darts that are traditionally fletched with thistle down. A little research shows that North America actually has native species of thistle. The thistle was collected before the seeds form but after the the flowers close. There was a curing process that included clamping the flowers shut so they would stay in compact bundle. When ready they were wrapped onto the darts and used for both hunting and war. What’s more is that native songbirds such as the goldfinches tend to prefer thistle seeds as food. ( store bought “thistle seeds are often not even thistle but an African plant called nyjer)
Being raised around cattle and hay fields means that all thistle is bad. The cattle won’t eat it and as it spreads it reduces hay production. However, native field thistle is often mistaken for Scottish thistle. I’ve not personally checked this yet but the USDA says that native thistle has white on the underside of the leaves and now that I know this I’ll be keeping an eye out for it in the future. I don’t raise cattle anymore but I do absolutely love my songbirds and so in the future I’ll be considering my little flock of songbirds when I do the weed control around my house. I don’t want anything to completely take over but if I can find a native species of thistle and make a spot for them that’s free food for my birds, bees and butterflies.
Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.
For those who have been following me on Facebook and know of the struggle content providers have to get circulation from big tech I’ve been recommending for people to adopt MeWe as a social media platform. One of the problems I’ve run into on MeWe is that people don’t know how to navigate the platform. So to help with that I’ve created a permanent page on my website as a basic Basic Beginner’s Guide To MeWe I’ve tried to anticipate all basic questions there and You can bookmark the page to have as a reference and if you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me. I do still have a day job and I help admin several pages on both platforms so replies might be a little slow but I will answer you.
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