New Mexico Thistle flower bud, City of Rocks State Park, Faywood NM, April 12, 2015

Radiance, a Thistle Bud

City of Rocks State Park, Faywood NM

April 12, 2015

Thistle up the Trail

This morning I took a walk up the trail toward the top of Table Mountain, the mesa overlooking City of Rocks State Park from the northeast. This huge, five foot tall thistle is growing right beside the trail.

I can't believe I haven't walked up there before. Until this spring I didn't realize the trail was even there and open to the public. The trail goes all the way to the top of the mesa and this morning I stumbled on the trailhead and took this hike on a whim. I wasn't prepared to go all the way to the top and didn't. I think it's about 2 miles to the top. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow. There are many more wildflowers along the trail I'd like to photograph. Plus it would be great to get to the top.

New Mexico Thistle plant, City of Rocks State Park, Faywood NM, April 12, 2015

New Mexico Thistle, Cirsium Neomexicanum

Cirsium neomexicanum is a species of thistle known by the common names New Mexico thistle, powderpuff thistle, lavender thistle, foss thistle and desert thistle.

This plant is native to the southwestern United States, particularly the Mojave Desert.

Cirsium neomexicanum is a tall plant, routinely exceeding 2 metres (6.6 ft) in height. It erects a stem which may have webby fibers and long, stiff spines. The sparse leaves are greenish-gray, hairy, and very spiny.

Atop the mainly naked stems are inflorescences of one or more large flower heads with rounded bases and phyllaries covered in long, curving spines. The largest heads may be up to 5 centimeters in diameter. They are packed with white or lavender disc florets.

The fruit is a flat brown achene with a long pappus which may reach 2 centimeters long. Unlike many other thistles, this species tends not to be a troublesome noxious weed.