Montana Outdoors

August 16, 2008

Two thistles

Canada Thistle, Cirsium arvense

Canada Thistle, (Cirsium arvense)

Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare

Bull Thistle, (Cirsium vulgare)


  1. I was hoping for more photos…but, I suppose thistle do. I know; it seemed too easy, but I couldn’t resist.



    Comment by Pinhole — August 16, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

  2. Man, you jumped on that one, didn’t you! Now I’m going to have to think before I shoot (photos).


    Comment by montucky — August 16, 2008 @ 7:07 pm

  3. Well, the Canada Thistle sure is beautiful. Too bad it’s terribly invasive, too…


    Comment by teaspoon — August 16, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

  4. I can see why “Eeyore” would be so drawn to them. your photos make them look pretty!


    Comment by silken — August 16, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

  5. Teaspoon,

    Yes, that’s one that has pretty blossoms, but a nasty plant. I don’t object to the Tansy because it just doesn’t cover as much ground.

    I personally have a deep hatred for all of the invasive species, plants animals, fish and insects: they are violations of the natural order here, but I think that people have become conditioned to respond to the word “invasive” with a panic attack which causes them to get all phrenetic but do nothing effective. There ought to be a hierarchy widely published of the “real bad guys” and lots of specific information available about the exact problems each one causes and the extent of those problems and some common sense, effective techniques for controlling them.

    In at least this area of Montana, we have done our very best to invite an influx of the invasive species by the crappy way we have conducted logging operations here for the last hundred years or so (and are still conducting them the same way). Even the worst species pales by comparison to the damage Plumb Creek does to its forests with its logging operations.


    Comment by montucky — August 16, 2008 @ 7:42 pm

  6. Silken,

    Eeyore was a pretty smart critter, and he was right: the top part of these plants is really pretty at the right times: it’s the bottom 4 feet or so that’s unpleasant.

    I’m very sensitive to all of the fuss about invasive species when it has been our road building, logging practices and the devastation of the grasslands by the cattle growers that have let them get a real foothold here in the first place. Now the taxpayer, as usual, is supposed to foot the bill to correct the problem while the same people who caused it in the first place are still doing the same old things the same old ways.


    Comment by montucky — August 16, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

  7. Invasive or not, I have long loved the beauty of thistle blossoms…lovely photos and a great topic for discussion! 😀


    Comment by Tabbie — August 16, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

  8. Yes, I like the blossoms, too. It may be the beauty of the flower compared to the harshness of the rest of the plant.

    this is a great topic, and I hope I have not offended anyone with my remarks: certainly no one here is at fault.

    I will do a post a little later showing some of the devastation caused by the logging practices in this area and by Plumb Creek Timber in particular. They have done the most environmental damage in this local area of Montana that has created the perfect environment for the invasive species to get a good start. As if that isn’t bad enough, those same practices are ongoing today and the local clamor is for more and more uncontrolled timber harvest and exploitation of the wild country by the mining interests. The cattle industry is doing it’s part to destroy the eastern half of the state.


    Comment by montucky — August 16, 2008 @ 10:15 pm

  9. gorgeous and awe inspiring – that’s all I can say! 🙂


    Comment by Sumedh — August 17, 2008 @ 6:23 am

  10. In the special language of heraldry, Scotland’s national badge is “the thistle, slipped and leaved proper”. This means that the thistle is face-on, with its spines and leaves.
    Why a thistle ? It is said that early in the 11th century a raiding party of Danes attacked a Scottish castle. They came by night and took off their shoes to be as quiet as possible. Reaching the castle moat, they jumped in to swim across. To their surprise, the moat held not water but thistles. Their shouts of pain awoke the defenders of the castle, and the Danes fled.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — August 17, 2008 @ 6:43 am

  11. I think they are too, Sumedh. It’s another matter of perspective: do we admire the blossoms and the down, or fear the spikes?


    Comment by montucky — August 17, 2008 @ 9:17 am

  12. That’s a great story, Scienceguy. Stepping on them without shoes would certainly get one’s attention! When fishing some of the streams around here late in the summer, it’s often necessary to cross through an area full of thistles, and they can be formidable indeed!


    Comment by montucky — August 17, 2008 @ 9:21 am

  13. Beautiful pictures!
    Believe it or not I have made Christmas ornaments out of the dried thistles. I’ve been jabbed a few times and boy does it hurt.


    Comment by Janet — October 6, 2008 @ 5:32 am

  14. Thanks, Janet! Yes, I bet they would be hard to work with especially when they dry out! I can imagine they would be pretty though!


    Comment by montucky — October 6, 2008 @ 9:26 am

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