Thursday’s Feature: The Wooly Thistle

Each Thursday I like to join Kimberley at Cosmos and Cleome and single out a plant which has tickled my fancy that week.  For the most part my choices have been on the respectable side but this week I’ve gone back to the dark side and chosen the wooly thistle (Cirsium eriophorum), a plant which if anything should be kept far, far away from your fancy since direct contact will definitely NOT tickle.

Cirsium eriophorum, wooly thistle

Cirsium eriophorum, the wooly thistle, with its first bloom opening in late June.

Despite its cute common name, the wooly thistle is probably cursed by many a gardener and farmer throughout its native Europe.  I don’t think many a gardener here or there would go through the trouble of finding seeds through a seed exchange, sowing them and nursing the plant for three years, and then briefly enjoy it’s heavily armed flowers for a few weeks until it set seeds and died… but I think it’s absolutely fascinating!

Cirsium eriophorum, wooly thistle

A baby picture only a father could love.  Wooliness studded with purple tips and all so nicely geometrical!

Who knows if I’ll replant the seeds once mama thistle is gone, she is a bit of a hostile presence after all, but she’s very welcoming to the bees and ants which swarm the flowers.  She’s also very popular with a group of weevils which have poked their noses into the wool and I’m sure laid eggs while nibbling the flower buds.  Weevil grubs eating thistle seeds is probably not the worst thing to have and even with them there will likely still be more than enough seeds produced.

Cirsium eriophorum, wooly thistle

The spines are just as vicious as they look 🙂

I will completely understand a less than enthusiastic review to this week’s choice.  Please feel free to just smile politely and then later shake your head, I’ll understand.

Cirsium eriophorum, wooly thistle

Cirsium eriophorum today with its fat wooly flower heads.

Please also feel free to visit Kimberly and enjoy what she’s selected for this week.  I hear it’s a delightfully pure Shasta daisy, and I’m sure it’s far better suited for vases and placing behind the ear than this thing!