Thursday, August 9, 2007

Is It a Weed or Is It a Flower?

When I was writing about the coneflowers and the origin of their botanical name Echinacea, I thought of another flower in my garden - Echinops ritro. Both owe their genus names to the Greek word for hedgehog - echinos. In the case of Echinops, there's more. Opsis means "spines around the flower."

I grew Echinops ritro last year and when spring came around this year, the thought went through my head that it was a good thing I had a plant marker stuck in the ground identifying the location of this, otherwise I would have pulled it out. Its common name is Globe Thistle and its foliage looks very much like its infamous cousin (Family : Asteraceae).

It likes full sun and well-draining soil. Mine is in amended clay and does very well, despite getting more moisture than most of the garden. Its steely blue balls are about two inches in diameter and if you let them go to seed, they'll germinate easily. This is one of those plants that will also grow from just a section of its root. Mine grows to a height of about two feet.

So is Globe Thistle a weed or a flower? It depends. There are no hard and fast rules for this, and if you want it in your garden as a flower, no one is going to stop you. While I detest regular thistles, I love this one. Even the foliage, and the flower is fascinating and beautiful. To me. You can decide for yourself.


Bob said...

I just posted about these, they are one of my favourites. You gave some great background info and liked the flower photos in different stages. Now the name really makes sense.
I always enjoy blog, BOB

Alyssa said...

I like globe thistle because they are so hardy and just keep returning. The color is also rather subtle and classy. Just don't back into one with shorts on!

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

It's a flower, as far as I'm concerned. :-) The plant has lovely foliage and the flowers are pretty special too, love the colours and shapes of the leaves and the flower. I love picking them for the vase, they look so good in a mixed bouquet.

Rosengeranium said...

Oooh! That blue flower is fantastic! As an indoor gardener I opt for plants that I call weeds - since they do well in most soils and under most conditions. Some of them are perennials that are easy to grow, some of them are actually clasified as noxious weed (the tiger nut). The definitioning of something as a weed tends to depend on if you want it in your garden or not.

Colleen Vanderlinden said...

I love echinops! This is my first year growing them, and I just love the shape of their blooms. Nice to hear that I can expect them to return easily for years to come!

David (Snappy) said...

I bought Mum some Echinops Artic Glow for the White Border I did for her when I was on holiday in Cheltenham.
They have the label by them so Mum doesnt turf them out as a weed.
Your Photo of the Globe thistle is cool.I saw them used at the Princes Trust garden at the RHS Tatton Park Flower show.Those were purple/blue flower spikes.

S said...

hi Kylee,

I found your blog by searching for echinops and I am glad you have grown them because I have a question! I ordered mine from springhill nursery and the one that is in a pot seems to be doing MUCH better than the ones I put in the ground - not sure why. I am in 8b but here in Austin its been weeks of over 100 degrees with very little rain. My question is, was there ever a time, about a month and a half or two months after you planted them where they seemed to stop growing? Mine have been stuck at 4 inches tall for a couple weeks now. Do you have any advice?

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