Thistles, friend or foe?

Often, we are all too quick to get rid of so called weeds; thistles, nettles, ragworth and so on. They are quickly pulled up or worse still, eliminated with weedkillers. But all these “weeds” are valuable for many forms of wildlife. At the moment thistles in our garden are proving very popular with bees and butterflies alike.

Peacock on thistle flower

Peacock on thistle flower

Bumblebee on thistle flower

Bumblebee on thistle flower

Carder bee on thistle

Carder bee on thistle

Later, thistle seed will be eaten by birds such as goldfinches. You may have noticed my photograph of tortoiseshell caterpillars eating nettles on a post a couple of weeks ago. And most of our ragworth plants have a couple of cinnabar caterpillars chomping away at the leaves (and flowers!).

Cinnabar caterpillars on ragworth

Cinnabar caterpillars on ragworth

 

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4 thoughts on “Thistles, friend or foe?

  1. Lori Fontanes

    Thanks for pointing this out! I read recently about the importance of dandelions to early bees first thing in the spring, too. We have been eliminating so many living things that all have a place in the larger ecosystem. *sigh*

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  2. aj vosse

    I love thistles!! And other wild flowers! At least our landlord is slow to mow the “meadow” but unfortunately, he sprays herbicide!! The worst part of this, he won’t change his ways… and even worse? He call’s himself a plants-man… owned and operated a nursery for many years!! (Yes, he’s the one who won’t allow us to plant even a few flowers and veggies for summer!! Hence me taking you up on your idea of using pots!)

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    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      I’d love to ban all herbicides but I don’t’ think that will go down well with some people. You can grow lots in pots, fruit and veg so definitely worth a try:)

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