|Little Malta star-thistle rosettes|
Let me first begin by saying Malta star-thistle is NOT native to Texas or even the U.S. NOT. NOT. NOT. NOT. It doesn't belong here at all. I HATE MALTA STAR-THISTLE. BASTARD CABBAGE, TOO. AND WAX LISGUSTRUMS...plus a few others. But I digress. Back to star-thistle. See my original post, "Another bad invasive" for the full scoop as to why I hate and despise this plant. We managed to get most of it out of the Meadow. Last summer, I tried to pull it out from a city easement across the street. I gave up. THIS spring, however, I decided it was WAR. I went to work on those little rosettes one afternoon. Pretty soon, James joined me. Then it was two against thousands. With his help, the numbers have diminished considerably. I return to the scene regularly to tear out those I still find. But be it known that MALTA STAR-THISTLE will not take over THIS part of the Hill Country!
Now on the native note, I feel sure that other thistles coming up on our property and our neighbor's is Texas thistle, not the demonic musk thistle (Carduus nutans, also called nodding plumeless thistle) that grows on my mother's property, much to her dismay. James and I observed some growing down the road from her place, and their spines look downright WICKED. Texas thistles (photos below) are better behaved and not so thorny. Plus, pollinators nectar on their flowers, and birds use their fluff for nesting material. Goldfinches eat the seeds, too.
Want to learn more? Check out "How to tell the difference between native and non-native thistles" posted by the plant experts at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin.