Texas Thistle ~ From Bud to Bloom

One of our prettiest and most useful plants, the Texas thistle (Cirsium texanum) begins blooming in April and continues to benefit a variety of birds and insects throughout the summer. A larval host for the Painted Lady butterfly, the plant provides nourishment for a variety of native bees, including bumblebees, and birds such as Goldfinches make use of its fluff and its seeds.

Each plant produces a single flower at the top of its usually unbranched stem. Sometimes confused with Engelmann’s thistle (Cirsium engelmannii), Texas thistle lacks that plant’s spiny bracts at the base of its flower.

 Its color and form are especially attractive, and its minimal prickliness makes it a fine addition to landscapes or pollinator gardens.

 

Comments always are welcome.

From Bud to Bloom

Emerging between February’s freeze and March’s bluebonnet extravaganza, wisterias brightened our landscape considerably.

This American Wisteria (Wisteria frutenscens), a Texas native with fragrant purple flowers, covered a chain-link fence in the nearby town of Dickinson. A member of the pea family, the shape of its opening buds makes clear its relationship to other early bloomers in the Fabaceae, such as Mountain Laurel and various wild indigos.

A bit farther down the road, at the Buddhist temple in Santa Fe, white wisteria covered an archway. While the native Texas species sometimes produces white flowers, I suspect this to be a form of Japanese wisteria: Wisteria floribunda. Although listed as a noxious weed in many states — the Missouri Botanical Garden has a firm “DO NOT Plant!” notice on its site — careful pruning had confined this beauty to a single area of the garden, where it was busy delighting the bees.

 

Comments always are welcome.