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Tuesday, September 18 2012


Each season at the ranch brings new surprises and captivating mysteries.  The puzzle for September was this:

I found them blanketing the gravel roadways along fence lines.

But what were they? The blooms looked like tiny purple pineapples or the blosssom of a lavender but the stalks were spiny and brittle, sharp and harsh.  What was the fascinating plant?

So dutifully, Other Half and the dogs sat in the truck while I hopped out with my camera to document this oddity for further research. I then asked some local folks, "What is this?"

And was told, "Thistle."

Hmmm . . . . Interesting. I had never run across this kind of thistle, so when I returned to civilization, I whipped out my stuff on thistles. Nada. Nothing.  Ah HAH!  A mystery! A puzzle! 

I was all kinds of excited, but I'm also lazy. A return to civilization also means the Merry-Go-Round of Life speeds up for me and because I wanted instant gratification the right answer, I posted the pics on Facebook for my gardening and biologist friends.  "What IS this plant?"

The beauty of the internet is that one can toss out a question, like a rock skipping across a pond, and just wait.  Lazy Busy people like this research method.  In a very short time, my mother, an avid gardener, responded:

"Eryngo - not a thistle. In the parsley family."

Wow, thanks Mom!  So off I went to research eryngo.  I NEVER would have thought this was in the parsley family.  Turns out that it IS a native plant of Texas. Deer won't eat it. No suprise there. Spreads by seeds. Wear gloves so you won't rip your hands to shreds while harvesting seeds. Ugly stalks. Wait rewarded by phenomenal display of vibrant purple color.

And as I read more about eryngo, I thought about how this little plant was probably a good example of a life lesson.  People wrote to gardening sites to tell them stories of how they endured patiently waited through the ugly unsightly, harsh, prickly stage of stalk growth, and were rewarded with a dazzling display of popping purple. 

And isn't a lot of life like this?  If we just patiently trudge on through the thistles, eventually, something good comes of it. 


Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:53 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
I am pretty sure dad used to grow an alpine version of this. Your version looks as tho it might be a noxious weed here
Posted by Liz (Vic Aust) on 09/18/2012 - 09:37 PM
Most here would consider it a weed. While I wouldn't plant it near the pastures, it is beautiful growing along the roadside. The Indians supposedly used it as a remedy for rattlesnake bites, so even though livestock don't eat it, I sure wouldn't go out of my way to eradicate it either!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 09/20/2012 - 03:55 PM
Do you think goats might like it? Looks like their thing. They certainly like scotch thistle here. Had a runaway crop when we first came. Blow in from farm up the road. Was like caviar for them. Trouble here is our winters are too mild to keep annual weeds under control and resonable size. Ragwort looks like it is on steroids. All mine is gone hand weeded as soon as it grew.
Posted by Liz (Vic Aust.) on 09/22/2012 - 01:33 AM
I don't know how close/far you are from the llano estacado but the Master Naturalists group has a lot of really experienced individuals that love to photograph the local flora and fauna. You can find the group here: or Burr Williams who is in charge of the group has a very educational Facebook page and welcomes all friends and questions:
Posted by WolfTexas on 10/11/2012 - 11:28 AM

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