Sunday, July 13, 2008

Scottish Things; Part I: Scotch Thistle

Isn't this lovely?

No, it isn't. This is the vile Scotch thistle, also referred to as a noxious weed in my county in Colorado. This plant, a member of the sunflower family, can grow to a whopping twelve feet, and is covered in spikes. We are admonished to rid our properties of this invader from Europe and Eastern Asia, lest it take over completely. One plant can produce 20,000-40,000 seeds.

This made me wonder how on earth this very same plant was adopted as the revered emblem of Scotland. Legend has it that marauders from Norway decided to invade the shores of fair Scotland one dark eve, and took off their boots in order to remain completely quiet. One of the Norsemen stepped upon the thorny plant and shrieked out in pain, alerting the Clansmen of the advance. And of course, the Scots won the day.

Thistle in dusk:


Annapurna said...

Aren't these the awesome looking flowers ever? But the most annoying to have if there are anywhere by where you live. 4 yrs ago, my neighbor let it grow and seed, since finches like the seeds, boy am I paying for it still.

Lottery Girl said...

Yes, I have an idea I'll be paying FOREVER. I didn't have a single one of these last year. This year we've had about 15 already. Drought conditions aren't helping much either, so as grass dies away it leaves space for more weeds.

Rhonda said...

Wow! Beautiful photos. I didn't realize they are part of the sunflower I love the legend about the marauders.


Lottery Girl said...


Thanks for popping in! Glad you liked the photos.

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

Great post - awesome photos and delightful storytelling!! Wonder what your Scots readers think of your version of their success in battle???

Anita Davies said...

Your photographs do your story no good at all, you've made them look so totally beautiful with your camera...Gorgeous shots!
However, I have a similar problem here in the Fens with a smaller but no less annoying member of the thistle family and totally understand what it feels like to rid the earth of these beauties once they have taken seed.
I certainly do not refer to them as beautiful when I am gardening! ;)
Enjoyed my visit.

Lottery Girl said...


Thanks a million for stopping in! I've read about the Fens--sounds like a delightful place, the thistle notwithstanding.

Deniz Bevan said...

Aww shucks, the thistle ain't so bad... It was nettles, not thistles that Claire wanted Jamie to switch her with, no? At least thistles have lovely purple flowers... :-)

Lottery Girl said...


Oh, I forgot all about the nettles! Don't think I've ever seen them.

Loretta said...

There are at least 5 different members of the thistle family including Scotch thistle, Canadian thistle, bull thistle, globe thistle, and musk thistle. These actually are musk thistles. See
The base of the flower on the Scotch thistle is much more bulbous. See