Purple thistle (Cirsium horridulum). Photo by Stacey Matrazzo

Flower Friday: Purple thistle

Thistles have a bad reputation for their spiny personality, but these formidable wildflowers shine as favorite nectar and host plants for many bees and butterflies, including swallowtails. It is the larval host plant for the little metalmark and painted lady butterflies. The seeds are an important food source for seed-eating birds.