Prickly Beauty

3thistlesandamonarchblog.jpg

Though most consider the bull thistle to be a noxious weed, I have always been fond of this prickly plant.  Of course,  I can understand why cattle farmers loathe it, as it tends to spread easily throughout grazing fields by way of its downy seeds.downy-seeds-blog.jpg Cows won’t touch it.  I found out why when I got too close while taking these shots.  Ouch.bull-thistle-buds-blog.jpg  If only it repelled deer as it does cows—I’d plant a bull thistle hedgerow!  However, I’ve read that deer find it tasty.  I wish they’d eat our bull thistles instead of our rhododendrons, hostas, and my little patch of ginseng. 
 
But as you can see, butterflies and bees love it. bigbeeonbullthistleblog.jpg Goldfinches do, too.  I can see them eating the seeds from my window.  I love how the goldfinch clings and keeps eating as the bull thistle bends over from its weight.  Unfortunately, I only have a cheap little point-and-shoot without much of a lens, so I can never get a photograph of that.  I’ve also seen hummingbirds hovering over the thistles, but getting a picture of them seems equally hopeless. 
 
But most of the time, at least, the butterflies and bees tolerate my clumsy intrusions.

The butterfly below that looks like it’s been sprinkled with gold fairy dust is called a fritillary.fritillary-blog.jpg   I always want to say “flitterary” instead.  Sounds more appropriate somehow.  And, of course, everyone recognizes the lovely monarch (the top photo).  The brilliant blue-winged one to the right is a swallowtail,swallowtailonthistle-blog.jpg and the little guy below,with the thick, cigar-butt body, is a skipper, I think.
 
It’s funny—the more I learn about nature, the more I become aware of how little I know!  It’s daunting, yet thrilling to recognize that there are thousands of plants, birds, and insects out there waiting for me to learn their names.weebutterflycloseblog.jpg

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5 Responses to “Prickly Beauty”

  1. lucky pennies Says:

    Wowee! These are beautiful photos. I especially love the photo of the pod bursting with thistle silk, and the one on its left, where the spines are backlit and illuminated.

    Nice!

  2. wesleyjeanne Says:

    Lovely photos. I, too, have a fondness for the bull thistle, even once it has gone to seed.

    I find the same thirst for more with every new grain of knowledge that finds its way into my brain, especially in rgeards ot the natural world.

    Keep it up–you’ve got a great start to your blog.

  3. ben (aka guitar maniac) Says:

    I really love the photos–even though the seemingly harmless skippers seem intent on chasing me. And birds are, in general, skittish enough to the point where you’d have to set up a virtual “sniper” shot (cover yourself in leaves and prop your camera up in a bush). That, or set up a timer shot at the hummingbird feeder.

    ¡Muy bien, señora! Y buena suerte en tomar más fotos buenas.

    Hasta luego.

    Con cariño, Benjamín

  4. A Bouquet of Bull Thistles « Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl Says:

    […] know, I know, I’ve written about bull thistles before.   I really can’t say why I’m so entranced with what some consider a noxious weed.  In fact, […]

  5. When is Enough Fluff Enough? « Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl Says:

    […] Then I remembered that I’d had at least two posts with the radiant feathery seedpods of  bull thistles. “Or would that be too much fluff?” I thought […]

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