Yeah, I know they're just thistles. And like all thistles, they're armed with an array of sharp, prickly spikes just waiting to give you a jab in the netherparts should you get careless. What's more, I know these particular thistles aren't even native-born citizens, but merely naturalized immigrants, brought in to beautify early gardens—whereupon, like so many of their ilk, they subsequently escaped into the wild and began cavorting across the countryside. Shucks, I even know many consider them botanical criminals on the lam, noxious weeds with no redeeming value, best dealt with by immediate eradication upon sight.
Everyone has a right to their opinion. But I do wonder what the birds and bees and butterflies and bugs would have to say about the matter. What would all those creeping, crawling, flying, slithering creatures who choose to regularly visit and dine upon—even make their home within—actually think? More than a few of these aforementioned seem genuinely pleased to have the plant around. Would the errant-but-pretty, and possibly tasty, Nodding Thistle, Carduus nutans—the "carduus" is Latin for thistle and the "nutans" comes from the Latin for drooping or nodding—be ranked high on their hit list?
Hmmm? You know, I truly have my doubts.
I certainly find the plant worthwhile. I like the spectacularly tall stem, the robust leaves, and the magenta-pink blooms which form over their green-and-purple reflexed bracts, and even the flower's snazzy powder-blue pollen…and I really, really like the heady-sweet musky fragrance which gives the plant its other common name, Musk Thistle.
Nope, I don't much care about its foreign pedigree. Or the fact it decided to eschew confinement to go roaming over yonder hill. I simply can't bring myself to bad-mouth this renegade thistle. Think what you will, I find this sweet-scented porcupine more beauty than beast.