Burgundy Thistle

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)April 18, 2013

My husband and I went on an overnight trip to Alabama. I came across an area (rural) where there were burgundy flowered thistles. I've never seen any this color before, the ones that come up here are either real big and the flowers are a blah cream color, or if they're the smaller types, they have pinkish purple flowers, sort of pretty. I'm always amazed that butterflies nectar on them - you'd think they'd be worried about being impaled on one of those thorns, but it never happens, at least I've never found a body.
Has anybody else seen large flowered thistles this color?

Sherry

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Leafhead

That is awesome!! I am eager to grow native Thistles in my garden, but my neighbors are hesitant on the subject..
The butterflies do love them, esp the Painted Lady. I'm trying Globe Thistle which is a little more eye catching.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 3:20AM
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bananasinohio(6OH)

Hi Miss Sherry!

This one intrigued me. Such a pretty color. There are red thistles out west but that didn't seem right. Then I came across this post for bull thistle (Cirsium vulgaris). Check it out and let me know what you think (you have to scroll down a little). Unfortunately, bull thistle is not native. Sure does make a great nectar plant though. We laughed this summer because in one site where we survey, the land manager had mowed down a large patch of thistle to knock it down a little. Well, it grew back one foot tall and bloomed. There were hundreds of butterflies in this one 50 foot stretch. We couldn't count them all. We almost dreaded that spot for two weeks.

Elisabeth

Here is a link that might be useful: Red thistle

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 8:36PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Elisabeth, the picture they show on the Hilton Pond site is definitely the same thistle, but I'm not sure if they've identified it correctly. On another site, they show an identical red thistle from the Coosa River Bog Preserve, also in Alabama, but they ID is as the red form of Cirsium horridulum.

I've been searching the internet, and all the ones that look like mine come from the South.

I like the color of this one so much I might go back when thistle seeds should be maturing and look for seeds!
A friend saw the picture and thought it was a cactus! :)

Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: Red Thistle - Scroll Down a Little

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:00PM
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bananasinohio(6OH)

Yup, I would agree with C. horridulum. I would grow it just for the name. Especially if it is smaller than bull thistle. If you collect seeds and grow it, let us know how it behaves. I may have to bug you for some seeds at one point.

Elisabeth

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:01PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Elisabeth, the plant is smaller than bull thistle, so I think C. horridulum is correct.

The purpose of the trip to Wilcox County, Alabama, was to visit an old, overgrown graveyard where some of my husband's ancestors, including his g-g-g-g-grandmother, are buried. I'm finishing up a book about them for my children and grandchildren. These people were Highland Scots, his g-g-g-g grandmother was born in North Knapdale. Since the thistle is the symbol of Scotland, I thought I'd use this picture in my book. The link you gave me for red thistles comes from York, South Carolina, on the border of N.C., close to where this family lived before coming to Alabama, and his g-g-g-g grandmother had a brother who lived and died in, you guessed it, Coosa County, AL, where the pictures in the other link were made. Maybe it's just a weird coincidence, or maybe this family brought the seeds from North Carolina to Alabama? Maybe they even brought them from Scotland to North Carolina? The Scotch thistle is a different variety, so I doubt they brought them from Scotland. Anyway, it was all very eerie, visiting a cemetery that had grown up to the point of being in the woods, and seeing the first red thistle I'd ever seen.

If I get seeds and manage to grow some here, I'll definitely share them with you.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:37AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

That is an incredible story about your husband's ancestors. Sounds like you had a good trip, at least and adventure. I'd love some of those seeds, too, if you ever manage to get some. Such a beautiful color!

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 6:35PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Since both you and Elisabeth are interested in the seeds, that's a good reason why we just HAVE to go back! :) 'Can't disappoint the people on the Butterfly Forum! I'm trying to get in touch with the man who owns the property to see if I can clean the cemetery up or even buy it, odd as that sounds. It's a shame that such an old cemetery with such interesting stones should be so neglected! And I did have an adventure - genealogy is just one big adventure!

One thing to consider, maybe whatever causes these thistles to be burgundy is the same thing that causes the soil to be red over there. They used to say that red soil indicates iron, so maybe that's what's responsible, I don't know. Anyway, I'd like for us to find out!

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:44PM
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bananasinohio(6OH)

That is wild! Definitely a sign from the universe.

I know here, naturalists go to old cemeteries to look for native plants that have disappeared. I have also heard of people going to look for old varieties of ornamentals.

So, I think a definite win/win for you! Genealogy and plants!

Elisabeth

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:10PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

If your theory about the thistle flower color is correct, we should definitely be able to grow burgundy flowering thistle in Oklahoma, the red dirt state!!!

Susan

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:52PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Susan,

You took the words right off my computer! Oklahoma, the red dirt state! Did you get my email?

Sandy

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:35PM
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