Creeping thistle

The 1959 Injurious Weeds Act does not just apply to ragwort. It names four more species as well: broad leaved dock, creeping thistle, curled dock, and the spear thistle . The park has all of them.

The creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) is in flower now. Like ragwort, it is a significant late-season source of food for all kinds of invertebrates. Usually, but not always, each creeping thistle plant produces only male or female flowers; the male flowers make large amounts of pollen and the female flowers announce their copious nectaries with perfume.

Later in the season finches and linnets will come for its seeds. It is an important part of the park’s ecology.

Creeping thistle is another of those plants that can reproduce vegetatively and sometimes prefers to do so. It has underground stems that can spread up to ten metres away from the parent plant in one season and produce a new plant at each node. This means that a thistle colony covering several acres might be a clone of a single plant.

Below is a photo gallery of creeping thistles and some of the creatures that feed on them.

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