Its presence on the prairie is celebrated as a sign of a healthy and biodiverse tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio Hummingbirds and moths are also consumers of nutritious thistle nectar. Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the family of … The central stem and side stems are light green to Beatrice , NE Canada thistles (Cirsium arvense) are perennials, growing back each year from their roots. (2004), Marshall (2006), Cranshaw (2004), Funkhouser All Rights Reserved. Associations: The smaller, egg-shaped upper leaves have less of the gray down on their undersides. across. The stem is upright and usually hairy. Copyright by Choose Natives 2020. Globe thistle or milk thistle. Bull thistle has leaves green on both sides. When conservation coordinator and flora encyclopedia Matt Bright is working at the nursery, he’ll gladly take a few minutes to tell me about this or that favorite plant of his. Identify Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium) by its broad, large grayish-green leaves with thick, cottony hairs. All thistles have a similar “spiny” look about them, as well as flower heads that are usually brush-like. alternate leaves and becomes about 3-8' tall. ), and heavily armed with spines than some thistles, they provide some Tall thistle is a native thistle that can grow to be 10 feet tall! Biennial thistles are commonly found in Iowa's pastures, roadsides, CRP and other un-tilled areas. Distaff thistle is a spiny annual growing to 3 1/2 feet tall. The plant appears bushy rather than the candelabra appearance of plumeless or Canada thistle. “I prefer the discolor,” he said of the plant that can shoot up more than seven feet in height. flowerhead has a multitude of small disk florets that are pink to In Nebraska the only thistles that are considered noxious are the Canada Thistle, Musk Thistle and Plumeless Thistle; Scotch Thistle and Bull Thistle are found in Nebraska, but are only considered nonnative. Native thistles provide nectar for monarch butterflies and seed and nest material for goldfinches. (2008). Thistles produce high-protein seeds; some thistle species also contain a high amount of moisture. The leaf As the common name suggests, this thistle can become quite tall. Proper thistle identification is important in knowing whether the plant’s presence warrants any control measures. Bees, butterflies, skippers, and moths visit the flowers for nectar and pollen. (Bumble Flower Beetle), Melanoplus Study the thistle weed for sparse branches and alternately arranged, deeply lobed leaves with pointed tips to spot the milk thistle (Silybum marianum). The leaves are also covered in whitish hairs, with greenish-gray upper leaf surfaces and whitish undersides. The VNPS gardeners found that field thistle did reseed—but not too aggressively. Self-sowing plants, like pasture thistle, are part and parcel of growing native meadow species. The distaff thistle has straw-colored, 2- to 4-foot stems and flowers that have a whorl of spiny leaves right below the head. Study the thistle weed for sparse branches and alternately arranged, deeply lobed leaves with pointed tips to spot the milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Stems have few to many branches. Tall Thistle and Pasture Thistle, the Bull Thistle has leaf undersides This perennial can reach 5 feet tall. Goldfinches' late-season nesting time coincides with the peak abundance of aster-family seeds, and they line their nests with the seeds' silky "parachutes.". Tall Thistle Cirsium altissimum Aster family (Asteraceae) Description: This wildflower is a biennial or short-lived perennial. inda cardui (Thistle Aphid), Capitophorus It blooms from July to September, which is later than the invasive exotic Musk Thistle with which it is sometimes confused. Identification and growth form: Bull thistle is a biennial that grows from a flat rosette of leaves the first year to a flowering stem the second year, often 5 feet or more in height. Cirsium altissimum. each leaf is sessile or clasps its stem slightly. Approximately 62 native Cirsium species are found in North America; 78% of which are primarily found in the West. Musk ( Carduus nutans ) and bull ( Cirsium vulgare) thistle are exotic species (originate from outside of North America) and are responsible for the majority of problems caused by this group of plants. Spot the purple starthistle (Centaurea calcitrapa) invading fields and other grasslands, with leaves and stems that are covered with cobweb-like hairs and rosette leaves that have circular spines in their centers. spp. Identification (see below for more photos) Branching, erect biennial, 2 to 6 feet tall This plant and the related entity italicized and indented above can be weedy or invasive according to the authoritative sources noted below.This plant may be known by one or more common names in different places, and some are listed above. Many beneficial and desired native plants get confused for noxious weeds; some of this is due to misidentification and other times it is just due to the different management needs of land owners. Growing up to 8 feet tall, the Italian thistle blooms clusters of one to five pinkish, cylinder-shaped flower heads and has spiny-toothed, lobed leaves that have rigid, distinct spines between the leaf segments. “If you wanted to get photos of native butterflies,” he suggested, “sitting near a field thistle is an easy way to do it.”. Stems hairless or sparsely hairy, sometimes with patches of white felty hairs; lacking spiny-edged wings. Each stout, rigid stem bears a purple, 2-inch-wide flower with a broad, spine-tipped bract. The stems have spiny wings and are 3 to 9 feet tall. cardui (Painted Lady), also feed on The wavyleaf thistle has 1- to 4-foot stems that are whitish, thick and fuzzy, as well as pink to deep-red, globe-shaped flowers. This thistle is widely distributed, but usually isn't Photo by David D. Taylor. It is also common to see many different insects perched on Tall Thistle. Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants. Spot the yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) by its dull-green leaves and stems that are covered in woolly hairs. Photo by David D. Taylor. Tall Thistle is Outer involucre bracts with a dark spot; all bracts end in a weak prickle. Five are on the Endangered Species List. arvense). Field thistle has leaves white underneath. The plants are 1-3′ tall, and leaves attach in an alternating pattern up the stem. Many insects feed on the leaves, stems, flowers and seeds, while some songbirds also feed on thistle seeds. “It makes a bold statement in the garden; there’s no mistaking it’s a thistle.” The bright pink and occasionally white flowers are gorgeous, he added, and their ability to “bring a wide variety of charismatic pollinators right up to eye-level is pretty much unrivaled.” Matt has observed skippers, swallowtails, monarch butterflies and bees frequenting those thistles—oftentimes all at once. There’s never been a better time to add an array of locally native plants to your garden. US Forest Service, FM-RM-VE
undulatum) by its distinct wavy leaves that have dense fuzz on both upper and bottom surfaces. The caterpillars of two butterflies, Calephelis muticum The leaves are alternate and are “wing-like.” The yellow starthistle has thistle-like yellow flowers with 3/8- to ¾-inch yellow spines that are arranged in a star-like pattern at the base of each flower head. U.S. Weed Information. The plant is often mistakenly identified and killed as bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), a weedy and aggressive European species. Milk thistle seeds are medicinal and often used in tea to help with liver and kidney ailments. The flowers of thistles are typically shades of pink, lavender and purple, sometimes they’re white, and some species have yellow or red flowers. Thistle Aphid); Since thistles readily reseed in disturbed soils, a well-established garden may not be conducive to heavy self-sowing. becoming gradually smaller as they ascend the stems. caterpillars of several moths (see Moth Table). Mailstop Code: 1103
Areas with high invasions can be reduced to dense monocultures that are difficult to control. Above: Misty globe thistles (Echinops ritro) by Isidre Blanc via Wikimedia.The gentler cousin to the Scottish thistle, non-invasive globe thistles (Echinops ritro) are ideal for the garden.With deep blue or violet orbs perched on silvery stems that are from 2 to 4 feet tall, globe thistles provide a striking architectural and textural element to the garden.