Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. I have been working on the thistles at a friends farm and have noticed a few wildflowers I don’t have here. It only takes seconds to take a few photos. Sometimes it is good to have proof of what you saw when it is unusual. I remember a few years ago I found a HUGE Morel growing in the chicken yard in February. I took a photo with my cell phone but had no way of getting it into my computer. I sent the photo to a few people, but now I don’t even have the cell phone. That was probably a once in a lifetime event and a fluke of nature to have a Morel in February.
Well, a few days ago, I was surprised to see a single Achillea millefolium with pink flowers. Achillea millefolium in the wild typically have white flowers and I have seen hundreds, and most likely you have, too. They can be seen growing along highways, back roads, in pastures, along trails, in fence rows, etc. There are many cultivars of Achillea in several different colors but to see an Achillea millefolium, other than white, in nature is a rare find. I feel very blessed and am thankful for witnessing this plant. I am very tempted to dig it up and bring it home so a cow won’t eat it or step on it.
Another wildflower on his farm that I don’t have growing here is the Asclepias viridis (Green-Flowered Milkweed). The Missouri Botanical Garden website says they are commonly found in the Missouri Ozarks and the southeastern corner of the state as well as several other states.
The nectar from the flowers are a source of food for many butterfly species.
The leaves are a source of food for Monarch Butterfly larvae (caterpillars). This milkweed also goes by several other common names. It is known as the Spider Milkweed because the White Crab Spider lives on this plant and Green Antelope Horn because the seed pods resemble an Antelopes horn.
Ummm… This stately plant may look AWESOME and it does have beautiful flowers. But, if you see these in your yard or garden, take photos and admire the plant then get rid of it. This is the terribly agressive and invasive Carduus nutans commonly known as the Musk Thistle and Nodding Thistle. A few years ago I had a couple of these growing next to the south side of the barn. It was different than the other thistles with its beautiful silvery leaves. I let it grow until it flowered so I could take photos then sprayed it. Then, this spring, I saw a couple more growing next to the hay lot.
The wickedly beautiful leaves are lined with very sharp spines.
The flowers are really neat on the Carduus nutans but they are different than the “common” thistle. Most thistles are very invasive and NOT native to this country.
When I first did my research on the species of Thistles growing on the farm, I could NOT find this plant. I was looking in the Cirsium genus. I really hadn’t gotten into Thistles for a few good reasons, and concentrated mainly on other wildflower species I have been identyfing on the farm. But, since I have been working on the Thistles on my friends farm, I noticed a few different species so I did some investigating.
He told me about the app from the Missouri Sate University that can be downloaded and used for plant ID. Well, I don’t have a cell phone but I did get on their website. I looked at the many species in the Cirsium genus but could NOT ID this Thistle. I noticed one of the links was redirecting to the wrong plant so I sent an email to Pam Trewatha to tell her about it. Of course, I sent her a photo of this thistle as well as the Achillea millefolium with the pink flowers. She correctly ID’d the thistle and thanked me for bring the error to her attention.
She also said she would be happy to help ID any other mystery plants. Hmmm… I have several so she will be hearing from me again. I have one in particular that comes to mind. 🙂
I will be writing a post on Thistles soon which should be pretty interesting. They aren’t all created equal and, believe it or not, they are edible and nutritious.
Until next time, be thankful, be safe and stay positive. This is a nice sunny day, so I think I will do some mowing and trimming. Of course, I will GET DIRTY. Care to join me?