Thursday, August 27, 2009

What grows in an atomic wasteland? Thistle!

I grew up on 3.5-acres in the rural hills north of what is now the city of Spokane Valley. I remember the day the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board came to visit.

For one reason or another our 3.5-acres was a hotbed of noxious weeds. The neighboring properties were probably similar but my mother takes these things to heart. If the government shows up and tells you to spend your weekends spraying chemicals to get rid of noxious weeds, then that’s what you do.

When you’re a kid 3.5-acres seems huge, I could play places where I couldn’t see signs of civilization. Of course I never did because there were snakes. Garter snakes, bull snakes and the big bad daddies; rattle snakes. It would take mom hours to spot spray the 3-acres. I can picture the canister she would use to mix up the spray, I can picture her lugging it around, what I can’t picture is her wearing protective gloves and a face mask. Did anyone back then? Did the chemicals come with a warning? Did some of the snakes die along with the noxious weeds? Dunno.
This little trip down memory lane was prompted by spotting these gorgeous, healthy thistles growing in an otherwise dry, desolate field. They look like they could thrive in the worst possible conditions, even an atomic wasteland, nothing would dare to stop them. Thistle was on my moms list of plants to eradicate, but not this type, something called Yellow Starthistle. It is evidently still a big problem; a quick Google search yielded numerous listings on the topic. These purple thistle are probably on a similar list, I wonder if the city will be sending out the sprayers?


  1. "Did some of the snakes die along with the noxious weeds?"
    We can only hope so, my friend. We can only hope so....

  2. Hi DG~~ They'd better not because this thistle is food for many native birds! Darnit! I've seen photos of Star Thistle and it's a menacing looking thing, all right. And I cringe at the thought of the toxic [Agent Orange-ish] sprays used in those days. All your mother needed was a blow torch or her spray can filled with vinegar. Or cardboard and bricks to smother the evil things. We've come a long way. Oh and I think I see Fireweed along with the thistle in the wasteland! Kinda pretty actually.

  3. Too bad so many weeds are so beautiful. I have a little thistle in my weed patch, removing it by hand is often a painful affair. I hope I don't ever get a city order to spray back there. I hate the thought of doing what your mother had to do, but I could see my neighbors complaining about the remaining weed patch I have going.

  4. D + N, you snake hater!

    Grace, really? I had no idea that the thistle had a positive side besides being cute.

    Megan, so true, beautiful and easy to grow. Some how I imagine that city officials have bigger fish to fry these days on their limited budget, so you might be safe.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!