Bull Thistle – Cirsium vulgare
Home Depot, Natick

Redish-purple flowers – Thistles are considered weeds, but are among the best nectar producers for bees and butterflies. Seeds are distributed by the wind on plumed “thistle down”. Spiny lance shaped leaves are often deeply cut. Main plant stems strongly ridged.


I write a short epistle
To the prickly thistle.
I may keep my distance
From your spiky resistance,
But like the buzzing bees
I’ll take your nectar, please.

Weed/Wildflower Wednesday

Bird’s-foot trefoil Lotus corniculatus is not a native of New England. It has been widely introduced in most US states. Trefoil refers to the three leaflets (ignoring the two smaller bracts at the base of the leaf stalk). That makes it seem like a clover at a quick glance, and it actually belongs to the same family, Fabaceae (legumes).

This example is in some crummy soil along the top of a two-level parking lot wall.

This example is in some crummy soil along the top of a two-level parking lot wall.


Weed/Wildflower Wednesday

Though leaves are full out in southern New England, at the top of Vermont it is still spring and there are wild woodland or alpine strawberries Fragaria vesca with small white flowers growing on the grass beside the hard-dirt parking lot. No fruit yet.

A key to the ID was that these strawberries are around during the peak of dandelion bloom.

Smooth Bedstraw, Wild Madder, Gallium mollugo before bloom. Square branching stem and eight whorled simple, sessile leaves in each whorl. Invasive plant with four white petals in bloom later. Found in the lawn where the wild strawberries were. The count of simple whorled leaves and the square stem make identification relatively safe before the flowers come out. If you can, always go back to check the plants in bloom.

At the Roadside

A couple of plants at the roadside:

Garlic Mustard (4 white petals) – considered very invasive in New England. Lots of tenacious runner/rhizome roots, tough to eradicate.

Poison Ivy (three early shiny leaflets and eventually thick, climbing vines on trees)

Western Poison Oak is another species in the same genus.

Some people call Poison Ivy, Poison Oak though they are generally referring to poison ivy.





Weed/Wildflower Wednesday (on Thursday)

Thistles are generally unwanted (weeds). Fortunately for the homeowner, they are easy to identify in the lawn long before the flowers show. Use caution. Wear gloves…or use a shovel.



Weed/Wildflower Wednesday

One of the skills for gardeners to develop is recognizing weeds and intentional plantings apart, long before the flowers show. Young shoots are much easier to remove than well-established weeds.

Likewise, pulling out young fall-flowering New England Asters like these would not be my personal preference. This is a well-established plant with last year’s stalks still poking through. Elsewhere beside my house, there are more, new asters coming in for the first time. Fall glory!