What is this plant / weed with purple flowers?

Lt_Lugubrious(8)April 28, 2012

This plant is everywhere I go lately. At the side of the road, off in some field, etc. It's very uninviting (sharp spines everywhere) except for the flower.

Does anyone know its name?



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It's a thistle of some type. Goldfinches love the seeds.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 7:25AM
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It is indeed a Thistle, and I would suspect it of being Field Thistle, Cirsium discolor (Muhl. ex Willd.) Spreng. Field Thistle link. (That Latin mess is just the Scientific name along with the guy that named it) or a Carolina or Soft Thistle, Cirsium carolinianum (Walter) Fernald & B.G. Schub. Carolina Thistle link. Both have lovely flowers, inhabit old fields, and unfortunately, lawns (OUCH!), and non-birders blame people who feed birds with spreading them through "thistle" seed in bird feeders, but that "thistle" is an African plant called "Nyjer", and cannot grow here.

Goldfinch are closely tied to Thistle; they do not start breeding until it blooms (July and later), make their nests out of the fluff (so tight they hold water!), and eat the seeds, and feed the seeds to their babies. They are so closely tied that their scientific name of "Carduelis" is very close to that of most Thistle (Carduus).

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 2:47PM
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I feel very late on the follow up myself, but thanks for the prompt replies.

Interesting facts on the ornithological side. I appreciate the information!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 1:22AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I am also glad I clicked on this thread. Fascinating stuff, thanks, danetherton.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 9:56AM
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