Feed on

Although the BFS volunteers collected fistfuls of thistles last week, they didn’t quite get all the ones by the toad pond and southeast corner of the wake, so they went back this past Saturday for a few thistles more.

Bryan Visser (HMC ’13) searches out Maltese Star-Thistles to add to his fistful. ©Nancy Hamlett.

We also collected some Italian Thistles that were in the vicinity.

Tim Cox and Elliott Cox collect Maltese Star-Thistles and Italian Thistles on the east side of the lake. ©Nancy Hamlett.

When we thought we had them all, we checked and checked again.

Searching for star-thistles. Bryn Visser (HMC ’13), Cleo Stannard (HMC ’15), Paul Stapp, and Ben Stapp look for lurking Maltese Star-Thistles. ©Nancy Hamlett.

Those Maltese Star-Thistles are sneaky. They can grow right up in the middle of other plants, and they’re especially hard to spot when they’re growing in mustard, which also had small yellow flowers. I bet you can’t spot the Star-Thistle in the mustard that Ben Stapp is holding in the photo below!

Ben Stapp exhibits a giant mustard with a Maltese Star-Thistle hidden in the middle. ©Nancy Hamlett.

The volunteers cleared out all (well, at least >99.9%) of the Maltese Star-Thistles in the target area, then cooled off with a well-deserved rest at lakeside.

Tim Cox, Dick Haskell, Ben Stapp, and Cleo Stannard (HMC ’13) cool off at the lake, while Ben shows Cleo a Willow Apple Gall. ©Nancy Hamlett.

While at the lake we noticed many Willow Apple Galls on Arroyo Willow (Salix lasiolepis). These galls are induced by a small sawfly, Pontania californica, that lays its eggs in the willow leaf. The galls provide shelter and nutrients for the developing larvae. After they undergo metamorphosis, the adults will emerge through small holes in the galls.

Willow Apple Galls, which contain larvae of the sawfly Pontania californica, on Arroyo Willow leaves by pHake Lake. Nancy Hamlett.

With this last push, we have officially ended this year’s thistle offensive. The BFS Volunteers all deserve a round of applause of the amazing job they’ve done!

Thanks to volunteer Mike Tschudi for the the spaghetti western theme of the last two Star-Thistle posts!

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