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Bull Thistle. August 18, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
Tags: , , , ,

Summer is bloom-time for Bull thistle in these parts:

This is the largest of our common thistles, with robust shaving-brush-size flowers atop stalks reaching five or six feet in height:

Despite the gnarliness of its spiny foliage (a thicket of this stuff would be impenetrable; thankfully, it isn’t that gregarious) I love this stuff for its bold color and I-Dare-You attitude.

Bumble bees love it, too!

These last two shots were taken with Ziggy; the first was courtesy of Elliot.


1. Lisa Golden - August 18, 2011

Such gorgeous color. I love the thistle’s combination of downy soft flower encased in a prickly outer shell.

2. Gina - August 18, 2011

I like the effect you’re able to accomplish with the thistle sharply in the foreground and the mountains in the background, without loosing the viewer’s eye from the latter. Very nice!

3. TheCunningRunt - August 18, 2011

Lisa, yes, a cool juxtaposition of textures and attitudes!

Gina, thanks – it was too windy to maximize the effect, but that’s what Elliot likes to do – the “tilt” function gives the depth of field, while the “shift” allows for that kind of composition (albeit at the expense of the distortion evident in the leaning utility pole!) 🙂

4. Steve - August 19, 2011

You and “the guys” take some lovely shots. Thistles are the kind of thing most would not notice, but there’s a lot to see if you stop and look. One author, who wrote a wonderful book about the ecosystems of the Piedmont, lists the major systems and then several micro-ecosystems. The bull thistle is one.

I also love these plants as powerful illustrations of the warfare/romance of plants and animals, which began in the sea and then got carried up on land. Insects and plants, in particular, are doing this ridiculously intricate tango of life and death with each other, almost totally unobserved by most humans. Plant vs. plant competition also borders on genocidal, and if you sped it up so it happened at our pace, would be breathtakingly violent. The world is a complex place, and fraught with tension as well as beauty and love. The thistle always reminds me…

5. littlebangtheory - August 19, 2011

Steve, thanks for the kind words, and thanks for adding your thoughts on the thistle as a microcosm of the larger world.

I’ve been noticing some spectacular changes in the flora around here these days, with many of the invasives we fretted about a couple years ago going nuts on the landscape this season. I’m concluding that, as bad as it seems, it’s inevitable. The global movement of everything means that Asian longhorn beetles and zebra mussels as well as Emerald ash borers are the New Normal, and maple syrup is likely to become exorbitantly priced, if not an historically quaint memory.

I’ve got a photo of Bur cucumber coming, another thing which has reared its lovely head on half the bushes in our area and may soon be ubiquitous.

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