Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thistle and Stinging Nettles

One wouldn't think that this beautiful flower belonged to a plant that most farmers hate to see sprout up in their pastures. While the flower is lovely to look at.........

the plant itself, is not.  
The picture below is of a well established plant in our back pasture.  It is a type of thistle, and is very common in our area.  Each plant produces many, many seeds that become airborne when the flower turns all white and fluffy.  Similar to the way a  dandelion does.  

Here is a closer view of all of the "leaves" that are on the stalk. They are covered in very large thorns. Take it from me, those thorns are fierce. They are not something you want to come into contact with.

One of the things I have noticed about the thistle is that it attracts lots and lots of stink bugs.  It's amazing to see how many stink bugs can occupy this one plant.
stink bugs

and more stink bugs

Most folks try to spray this weed with an herbicide to try to eradicate it.  We, on the other hand, just let the goats get after them. It's amazing to watch them nibble at that thorny bush and eat it like it's candy.    Unfortunately our back pasture isn't completely goat proofed yet, so they are unable to get these just yet, but in time hopefully we will get it.  

Another weed here at our farm, that we most definitely steer clear of, is this one in the picture below. The kids call it a stinging weed. If any skin comes into contact with it, it will cause some of the worst stinging ever! I've been told by several people that this is a type of stinging nettle. It is short lived here, it comes up and dies off in a couple of months. Those few months they are here, we are ever so careful not to come into contact with it. This is one of the plants I think neither the goats nor cattle have any desire to consume.

notice the fine little hair-like needles on the plant

If you look closely at the photos, you will notice all of the tiny little hairs on the plant.  They can actually "poke" through clothing and come into contact with your skin.  I found that out the hard way a while back.  I've learned to check before I take a seat in the grass around here.

It grows everywhere!

I hope everyone had a great Easter. We had several visitors Saturday here at the farm.  I got some photos that I will have to share next time.  I will be trying to work on the blog a good bit today.....


  1. The Musk and Canadian Thistle plants can produce up to 10,000 seeds if left to mature. Imagine what that can do to a pasture.

  2. That's why it is so great to see the goats consuming them. They really like to go after the buds before they even bloom. Goats are such an added benefit to the pastures!


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