When I first encountered these Yellow thistle plants near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, I was immediately reminded of the “Audrey II”, the alien man-eating plant from The Little Shop of Horrors movie. The plant is a contradiction of exotic beauty and menacing horror.
Interestingly, the Yellow Thistle’s genus- species name is Cirsium horridulum. In several states, Cirsium are considered noxious weeds, while others states have designated it as an endangered or threatened species.
In my state of North Carolina, the thistle is relatively common in the coastal plains and is know to initially flourish were the ground has recently been disturbed. Over time, the thistle gives way to other plants who establish themselves with permanence. I found evidence of this with numerous thistles thriving along the 2,900 foot strip of land where in 1999, the lighthouse was moved inland away from the encroaching sea.
Thanks for “sticking” around for this post! To best appreciate the prickly detail in these thistles, click on an image to view the high resolution version.