Sunday, September 8, 2013


The website, part of the Kansas State University libraries, identifies at least five species of thistle growing in Kansas. These include the wavy-leaf, tall, bull, musk, and Russian thistles. The wavy-leaf and tall thistle are native species, while the bull, musk, and Russian are introduced species. The native species are generally controlled by insects and disease. Non-native species are usually considered noxious weeds.

 I am not good enough to differentiate all of the species, I will leave that to the botanists.

Thistle with Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly, Papilio troilus
This image in September of 2013 was taken near the Wichita airport in a habitat area next to Cowskin Creek. A beautiful Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly took a moment to rest while I took this shot.

Thistle at Lake El Dorado, Butler County, Kansas
A second image was taken at Lake El Dorado, Butler County, Kansas.

Thistles are commonly found in fields, but they can also be found in a clear patch in woodlands.

Anyone who has been to a bird shop knows that songbirds love the tiny black thistle seed. Cattle avoid eating the thistle because of its formidable spines which are sharp to the touch. All types of insects will gently rest on the head to taste the nectar, and, in the process, pollinate and fertilize the flower.

Native American Indians used the root of the thistle as a tea and an eye wash.

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