|Monday Melange: Red Thistle|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 14 May 2012|
I love globe thistles in the garden, but since Mondayís edition of The Daily Dirt is dedicated to native plant species, I decided to profile red thistle (Cirsium proteanum). Synonymous with (C. occidentale), red thistle is native to the lower elevations (between 0 and ~1200 feet) in California, Nevada, and Oregon. One species, C. occidentale var. venustumis native to California only. In most parts of the country thistles (Cirsium spp.) are generally classified as noxious weeds; however, it is the non-native species that typically invade open fields.
Also known as venus, coulterís, and cobwebby thistle, the latter perhaps because the large flowerheads invite spiders to spin their webs in them?, red thistle is a member of the Aster plant family (Asteraceae). The bright red flowerheads are 1 to 2 inches across, edible, and very showy, attracting swallow-tail butterflies and hummingbirds. The foliage is silvery grey-green in color and covered in downy hairs. Red thistle, an annual/biennial typically dies down after fully flowering, which means it typically lives one or two years. The plant itself is quite tall reaching a height of 3 to 6 feet.
Given its native habitat, which includes chaparral, coastal sage scrub, Joshua tree woodland , itís not surprising that red thistle is drought tolerant and prefers sandy soils and full sun. It is deer resistant and hardy between USDA plant zones 7 and 10.
Photo source: http://blogs.redding.com/dlangshaw/archives/2006/06/