Obnoxious but Briefly Pretty

Italian thistle

The Italian thistle (Carduus pycnocephalus) is obnoxious.  That’s not just my opinion.  Wikipedia says that “Carduus pycnocephalus has become a noxious weed in AustraliaNew ZealandMacronesiaSouth Africa, the Arabian PeninsulaSouth AmericaHawaii, and North America, especially in much of California.[2][6] It is a C-listed weed by the California Department of Agriculture and a Moderate Invasive Plant rating by the California Invasive Plant Council.”

As I’ve observed here repeatedly, just about every noxious local plant with the laudable exception of poison oak is found in Cesar Chavez Park.  This year, fortunately, thistles have had a quiet year, in contrast to last year when untimely and excessive mowing of fennel by park management produced a monster thistle crop.  This year the fennel has reasserted itself in most of the overcut areas.  Unlike the fennel, the thistle is not a bird habitat, does not produce useful seeds, is not edible or medicinal, does not produce a heady fragrance, is not pleasant to walk through, and lacks elegance or interest in its overall shape.

However, its blooms are briefly fetching for their bold pinkness and their burstlike structure.  In keeping with my inclination to highlight points of beauty even in noxious creations, I give you these snapshots.

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