Saturday, March 15, 2008
You Know How To Thistle, Don't You, Steve? You Just Put Your Leaves Together And... Grow.
When it comes to thistles here at Pure Florida HQ, it's a to have, or have not dilemma.
If I allow them, the Lepidoptera clan get a pretty good early nectar source ... which is a point for the "have" side of the argument.
On the other hand, they seem to be very attractive to leaffooted bugs which slurp on my garden veggies. The average thistle plant will be full of these undesireables ... so that is a point for the "have not" side.
If you ignore the show off butterflies and look into the plant you'll see some of those bugs crawling about.
Thistle is also a spiky mess that is unforgiving to bare feet and this is Florida afterall, and we like to go bare.
Point to the "have not" side.
Then there is the minor fact that a thistle can produce thousands of seeds and if you are not careful, they can take over an area.
Another point to the "have not" side.
If we toss in the exotic plant status of this thistle, then the "have not" side gets two bonus points because I really hate exotics in Florida.
"Slurp while you can dude, that thistle is toast!"
Well, there you have it. The "have not" argument wins.
Still ... I do like these butterflies.
My compromise is to take a walk with my machete every now and then and whack the tall flower spikes before they actually produce seeds. At that point, they usually do not send up a replacement spike.
The spring butterflies get their early nectar banquet and slowly, the few patches of thistle that bug me are dwindling.
Besides, there's plenty of native nectar sources here at PFHQ due to my complete lack of neighborhood association mowermentality.