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Wednesday - April 07, 2010

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Seed source for thistles in San Marcos TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Where can I buy thistle seeds?

ANSWER:

You know, there are a LOT of thistles. When we searched on "thistle" in our Native Plant Database, we found 29 different plants with "thistle" in the common name. We reduced that to 11 of those found in Texas. Then we searched on "cirsium." Cirsium is a genus of perennial flowering plants in the Asteraceae family, one of several genera known commonly as thistles. This time we got 23 , with 7 of them native to Texas. Cirsium texanum (Texas thistle) is native to the Central Texas area around San Marcos, so we hope that is the one you are looking for. The only problem is, we can't find anywhere to buy the seeds, either. We went to our ever-faithful website for Native American Seeds, and  found not one single Cirsium listed. We tried Centaurea americana (American star-thistle), which also grows in Central Texas, at Native American Seed and found this listing for American Basketflower. Then, we tried Argemone albiflora ssp. texana (bluestem pricklypoppy), and found that listed at NAS as White Prickly Poppy, also native to Central Texas. Finally, there is Eryngium leavenworthii (Leavenworth's eryngo), which looks like a thistle, but isn't, and is listed at NAS as Eryngo.

Now, what was the question again? Oh, yes, where can you buy thistle seeds? Well, if I can refer again to our webpage on Cirsium texanum (Texas thistle) we learned, under Condition Comments, that you should let the flower progress to seed, providing food for birds. You could probably go out and find some in the fields now that they are blooming, mark them to make sure you're getting the right one, and come back in the Fall and harvest your own. They bloom from April to August, so the seeds should be ripening soon after that. 

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