Montana Outdoors

August 7, 2009

Same idea

How often do we see similar patterns in nature! Well, I suppose if it works…

This afternoon when I saw this, the thought of “thistle” immediately came into my head, but it isn’t a thistle; it’s Burdock.

Common burdock

Common burdock,
Arctium minus

For comparison, here is a thistle:

Bull thistle

Bull thistle,
Cirsium vulgare

Same family (sunflower) and similar looks.


  1. Ah, the common burdock. We consider it rather nasty in my part of the world. It has weedy qualities and is easily dispersed because its seeds catch on fur or clothing. And then it crowds out the flowers that are native. But definitely in the same family. It’s actually kind of pretty with that double-decker look, if only it didn’t get so out of control.

    They are both part of the aster family.


    Comment by Bo Mackison — August 7, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

    • This was growing along Munson Creek in a small area only. It’s quite rare there.

      There is a lot of it along a small section of the Clark Fork river where it is really a pest. Part of the price one pays for catching large Rainbows, I’ve always thought. You get to the Burdock by wading through chest-high thistles. I always consider the fishing worth running the gauntlet and I’ve become quite skilled at removing burdock from my boot laces.


      Comment by montucky — August 7, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

  2. I like the top one!! I have Bull thistle in my yard … interesting stuff!


    Comment by Stacey — August 7, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

    • Yes, the flowers are quite pretty, aren’t they! I have a love-hate relationship with both, and I’ve learned to wear tough clothing when I’m going into an area where they are plentiful.


      Comment by montucky — August 7, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

  3. I was just thinking about burdock today. I loved the flowers as a little girl and would make “corsages” out of them by sticking them together. We don’t seem to have any on our 13 acres, which surprizes me. I guess that is a good thing, though. They get out of control so quickly. That is a pretty photo, and it does look a lot like the thistle!


    Comment by Kateri — August 7, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

    • I think the flowers are quite pretty. Outside of the one area by the river, I don’t see much of it here. I can live with it much better than with the cockleburrs which I don’t think have any redeeming value.


      Comment by montucky — August 7, 2009 @ 10:04 pm

  4. They’re both pretty. I didn’t know thistle had a flower (city girl). Funny that they’re in the aster/sunflower family–they don’t look similar at all.


    Comment by Candace — August 7, 2009 @ 10:59 pm

    • The thistle flower is pretty and the down from it when it goes to seed is also interesting. Walking into a tall one though, especially in late summer when it’s dry and rather rigid is not fun.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2009 @ 9:31 am

  5. I can see why there might be a moment of confusion about the flower’s ID.



    Comment by knightofswords — August 8, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

    • I’m not sure what the success mechanism is, but they share it.


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

  6. Shiver me timbers! I don’t much care for thistle or burdock or anything for that matter that adheres to me socks! Still though, nice photos 🙂


    Comment by Maureen — August 8, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

    • I’ll take thistle, burdock or even cockleburs, cholla, devil’s club or cat claw over cheatgrass or foxtails!


      Comment by montucky — August 8, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

  7. Well captured, Terry. Don’t know that I have ever come across Burdock. I’ll have to check whether it grows here in the east. I love the vibrant color of the thistle. Very nice.


    Comment by edvatza — August 9, 2009 @ 8:56 am

    • I really like the blossoms of both of these but other than that they’re not so great. Butterflies and hummingbirds like them though!


      Comment by montucky — August 9, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

  8. Very similar! 99 out of a hundred people would say that it is thistle. Much like the straw vs hay confusion.


    Comment by scienceguy288 — August 9, 2009 @ 4:30 pm

    • You have to look closely, but then it’s easy to tell. Strange how we get into a pattern of first impressions, isn’t it!


      Comment by montucky — August 9, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

  9. nice comparison and both pictures are beautiful.


    Comment by kcjewel — August 9, 2009 @ 6:44 pm

  10. Such beauty! I, too, always marvel at the diversity and the similarities found amongst plants and flowers ’round the world. You couldn’t have chosen two more gorgeous flowers of which to capture images. Like the rose, these blossoms carry pain and punishment alongside their outstanding beauty.


    Comment by Tabbie — August 11, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

    • Great beauty and yet the potential for pain create a sort of balance, I think. When the rose is in bloom, I never complain about a prick from the thorns.


      Comment by montucky — August 11, 2009 @ 7:53 pm

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