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.


Anonymous said...

Same plant, same argument here. So far, I've whacked them, though not always immediately - more opportunistically. It's sunny enough today to start thinking about what to plant a little later in the spring that will be good food for birds, bees, and butterflies and not eradicated on planting by the deer.

roger said...

ditto here on thistles. early spring is my thistle patrol time. if i don't pull them they will go to seed. and if flowers have formed they will go seed even if pulled!

don't get me started on scotch broom.

Danielle Says Hello said...

I wondered what those plants were called....I have taken several photos of them...but never realized that they are Eyore's favorite food.

robin andrea said...

What a beautiful butterfly.

lesle said...

"Was you ever bit by a dead ... thistle?"

Floridacracker said...

I see the deer Dementors strike up north as often as they do here!
Glad to hear that you can see the light at the end of the winter tunnel.

i don't know scotch broom, but i imagine it must be bad.

Me neither!

I missed the best shot of 4 on the thistle at one time.

I get it!!
I gotta netflix that movie and watch it again.

lesle said...

FC, your post led me to "Key Largo", partly filmed in Florida; here's an intriguing quote:

"Let me tell you about Florida politicians. I make them, I make them out of whole cloth, just like a tailor makes a suit. I get their name in the newspaper. I get them some publicity and I get their name on the ballot. Then, after the election, we count the votes, and if they don't turn out right, we recount them again until they do"--Edward G. Robinson to Humphrey Bogart in Key Largo

Laura said...

We have so few butterflies around our neighborhood and it just drives me crazy. I believe the reason is that almost all of my neighbors use pest control services. :(

Years ago, a well meaning friend brought me a Brazilian Pepper tree, thinking I'd like to plant it out back.
Fortunately it never made it into the ground!

threecollie said...

We vote strongly on the have not side...with a BIG mower. They still abound and the goldfinches delight.

Doug Taron said...

Well, there are thistles and then there are thistles. We have a terrible time up here with the nonnatives nodding thistle and Canada thistle (the latter from Asia, not Canada). Then there are wonderful native species like swamp thistle, which is the host plant for one of the rare butterflies I'm working with.

Great palamedes swallowtails. That's a southern species that we don't see in these parts up by the Arctic Circle.

Deb said...

Ooohh, I have memories of running barefoot as a child and landing on one of those nasty, prickly things. Have Not.

But then again, I like goldfinches. But they seem to get by no matter what.

Floridacracker said...

That is spooky, spooky, spooky.
I guess maybe we are a banana republic ...

And I bet your city/county government runs mosquito control trucks through your neighborhoods.
That doesn't happen here in the middle of nowhere.

I'm sure cows do not like having them around.

Good point. I didn't mean to paint them all with the same brush.
I'll keep an eye out for other subtropical insects to share.
Thanks for the expert ID.

Me too. Adult memories also!

Alan said...

Non-mowers of the world unite. We got a warning that our weeds were too tall - they all sprouted up in a week and I can only mow on weekends and lately they've been wet or cold or both - either way not good mowing weather. Besides, our weeds are topped with nice purple flowers, so I just say that I am helping to support the natural propogation of wildflowers...

OldHorsetailSnake said...

A very wise choice. I hate them thistles.

Floridacracker said...

Sounds like spiderwort. Good for you ... vive le resistance!

They are fiesty.

Sharon said...

AAARGH!!! I chased one of those all over Ravine Gardens today, he never would land. Beautiful shots. :)

Floridacracker said...

Wow, I haven't been to Ravine Gardens since I was about 8.

Sharon said...

My first visit :) I was a little disappointed - I don't know if something is going on with the azaleas this year, but there weren't near as many as I expected to see. It's a cool place to stomp around in though, I'm uploading pics right now to flickr: Ravine Gardens

ImagineMel said...

"it's been so long since I could say, 'thister susie thittin' on a thistle...gosh oh gee how happy I'd be if I could only whithle"
thanks for getting that going on my head! And of course Eeyore eats thistles...what else would you expect! :)

Floridacracker said...

No wonder he's such a depressed ass.
heehee ... haw!