When the thistles bloomed this August, their lavenders, pinks, and magentas rivaled the golds and yellows of the sunflowers.
We should never underestimate the lowly thistle--especially not this thistle, which isn't "low" at all, but is Tall Thistle (Cirsium altissimum), a marvelous native biennial!
|Tall Thistle (Cirsium Altissimum)|
Creek Field, August 20, 2016.
Tall Thistles are full of nectar and pollen!
Their hot pink blossoms are like menus in a restaurant window, advertising delicious meals within.
Lots of flying folks stop by! My camera found the following winged patrons at the Thistle Cafe, sipping & supping:
I was able to photograph these visitors during one hour in the Creek Field, around sunset on August 26, 2016.
The visitors were, in order of appearance, Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus); Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris); Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala--Western Missouri form); another Monarch; a Honeybee (Apis mellifera); another Monarch; Corn Earworm Moth (Helicoverpa zea), sorry about that; the honeybee again; a hummingbird flying; same Corn Earworm Moth, sorry again!; yet another Monarch; a returning Monarch; same honeybee; one of the Monarchs again; hummingbird sipping; Monarch close-up; a Geometrid Emerald Moth (Geometrinae) resting, while coyotes start up in the background; and a Snout Moth at the end, family Crambidae.
Thistles may be full of nectar and pollen, but they were not so full after these visitors had come and gone!
Many thanks to Eva Zurek for identifying the Geometrid Emerald and the Corn Earworm Moth. She identified the Snout Moth for me last year!
|Second-year thistles flower in the Creek Field at dusk, on|
August 29, 2016.
|Tall Thistle basal leaves form a carpet|
|First-year Tall Thistles have|
sent up their basal leaves.
Thistles were not in our seed
mix. They are prodigious
(and welcome!) volunteers.
Some areas look like a monoculture of thistles.
They form a carpet on the ground.
Does this mean that thistles will "take over" next year?
Not necessarily. Prolific, quick-germinating biennials have a short-term advantage over perennials. But the perennials, with their greater variety of survival strategies, have a long-term advantage.
We'll have to wait and see!
But for sure we'll continue to have lots of Tall Thistles for a long time to come.
And that means more high living at the Thistle Cafe!