Good native thistles or nettles?

flutterbug(NH 5b)September 12, 2006

I am wondering if there are any well behaved native thistles or nettles. I would like to attract Painted Ladies to lay eggs on them. I did a search and there seems to be only invasive and non-native ones. I love butterflies but I refuse to plant anything bad for our native plants.

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Thistles are blooming now, can be beautiful and are great nectar plants.
The above link will give you some insight into which thistles are less desireable and how to ID them.
Keep in mind that the info there is for Mo. and may or may not be applicable for you.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 11:57AM
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look around this site for more data on what is native or not
in your area.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 12:07PM
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Around here, two common native thistles that are good for butterflies are tall thistle and field thistle.

I agree with huzzah -- look these up on the USDA PLANTS website to see if they are native to your area. If you enter the genus name 'Cirsium' in a scientific name search, you will get a long list of species. If you select the first entry (the genus name, Cirsium), it will open a page with a series of distribution maps of the various species at the bottom. Click on maps that include your state, and check to see which are native. For example, field thistle, Cirsium discolor, is native to New England. Many native thistles are listed as 'weeds' by state agriculture agencies, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

You might have trouble finding a commercial source for thistle seeds, because the demand is probably not great. But if you can find a nature area that has native thistles, collecting seeds is easy this time of the year.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 9:33AM
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I found two perennial nettle-like species that grow in your and my area.Urtica canadensis,wood nettel and Urtica cylindrica,False nettle.They both grow in rich or moist woods.They're prettier plants than the common nettle,Wood nettle is much less vicious than stinging nettle and False nettle lacks stinging hairs entirely.I usually see them growing in the undisturbed wet thickets and swamps in my area.Don't know if they are food sources for Painted Ladies,but they are nice plants to have in a shady wet spot.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 11:52PM
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