What on earth is this plant? Thought it was Acanthus

marcoloJuly 24, 2012

Zone 6 Boston.

I thought this was an Acanthus spinosus. We planted it last year, and moved it this spring. Transplant hit pretty hard but it bounced back mightily.

I've had my suspicions that it wasn't an acanthus, and now that it's just starting to flower, it looks like some kind of thistle.

What is it?

If it is not an acanthus, should I pull it? Is it a weed?

Also, if I do pull it, what should I plant instead? If the acanthus didn't overwinter I don't want another one. But I would like the same bloom time and shape.

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mistascott(7A VA)

It is some species of thistle -- perhaps bull thistle (cirsium vulgare), usually considered a weed.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 9:34AM
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That is one fine looking thistle...get rid of it SAP or it will take over your yard. (Ps... wear good heavy gloves!)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 9:35AM
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LOL. You wouldn't believe the TLC this weed has received! At least give me credit--there is a little similarity in the leaf shape to a. spinosus!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 6:39PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Well, I must admit it does look VERY lush and healthy.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 10:26PM
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That is one wonderfully cared for Thistle!!! I sometimes think plants can deliberatly masquerade as other plants to fool us. I have nurtured many a weed in my lifetime and probably will many more times! Shovel prune and move on!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 6:32PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

probably came from a finch thistle feeder

are you the culprit.. or a neighbor ...


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 6:44PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Ken - 'thistle' in bird seed is not thistle! It's Guizotia abyssinica - see link below. When DH wanted to set up a finch feeder with 'thistle' seed, I checked it out... including doing a germination test on the seed! So the OP's thistle did not come from a bird feeder - but might have come via a bird passing overhead :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: birdseed 'thistle'

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 8:24PM
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Are there any cultivars of thistle that you would actually want? Or are sold in garden centers? Is there any possibility this is anything other than a weed?

I haven't gotten around to its execution yet, but before the guillotine falls, I just wanted to make absolutely sure. There's a person of Scottish ancestry in the house, and I wouldn't put it past myself to buy a thistle in honor. Watching me in a garden center is worse than seeing a drunk with a key to the bar.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 12:47AM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

There are a few thistles that are considered garden worthy, but most are invasive weeds. The worst of the lot is probably Canadian thistle. You can actually be fined for growing that in New Jesey.

The bull thistle that you have is one of the few weeds that I always use round-up on as soon as I spot it. Much easier and safer than trying to pull it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 10:09AM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

Milk thistle and Scotch Thistle are awesome plants.. though you need heavy gloves to handle!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 12:00PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

who knew..

back in the day ... i bought from the local mill.. i wonder if mine is real thistle ...

go figure.. learn something new every day ...

sooooo.. where the heck do all these thistle come from.. lol ... and shouldnt it be thith-el????


    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 7:18PM
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