Armed Thistle (HolyLand)

Severe Thistle With Flower Buds photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

This thistle so reminds me of my youth. Then, there were guys in Brooklyn who you knew were rough guys. We called them “rocks.” I never messed with them, they wearing black leather jackets, adorned with sizable metal studs, their hair was heavily greased, and they always hung in groups. To this day, I don’t know how tough they were, but then, it made no sense testing out that unanswered question.

In Israel, this HolyLand Thistle plant totally reminds me of those ‘Fonzy’ characters back in Canarsie, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Flatbush Brooklyn. This 6 foot to 7 foot tall Thistle was covered with severe, saber sharp thorns. No creature I can think of would want to brush up against it. When you first come upon this plant, you stop and wonder, you foolishly hope that this Thistle cannot pick itself up and charge toward you. At least you are thankful that it is anchored in place.

I wondered too why a HolyLand wild flowering plant was so armed with near-deadly knife-like thorns. Why?

It was not in bloom then, and I regretted that I did not see it in flower.


Kauai & the Golan Heights . . .

Long-tailed blue butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Neve Ativ, Israel
How some of us cringe at the thought of traveling half-way around the world. I mean the packing, dash to the airport, the airport!, security’s distrust of You (although you’ve spent your life being loyal), the cramped airplane, with the usual impassive fellow fliers seated around you . . . . Now look at this cutie, nectaring on a thistle growing near a small village, on the slope of Israel’s Mt. Hermon. A Long-Tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) patiently sipping the sugars energized by the sun of the desert that is the Middle East.

Imagine how I perked up when Robert Michael Pyle, in his Mariposa Road ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) stood with his wife Thea on Hawaii’s Kauai island, and “she spotted a long-tailed blue, a.k.a. bean butterfly (Lampides boeticus), gone to roost six feet up in tall grass . . . it was introduced from elsewhere; in its case, Asia.”

Whoa! Israel’s highest mountain and an island in Hawaii share the same blue butterfly? Teeny, tiny blues that somehow were transplanted from the Middle East/Asia to the verdant Hawaiian islands. And are thriving there. Yet another indication  that it’s almost time to consider pitching that rule book out the window.


Raccoon Creek State Park’s Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Isn’t she spectacular? Nectaring furiously on Joe Pye weed flowers, she paid no attention to my close approach. A summer morning at Raccoon Creek State Park in western Pennsylvania.

This native northeastern shrub is a magnet for swallowtails, skippers and many other butterflies. They bloom in sync with ironweed and thistle, so Papilio glaucus is well provided for.

Those blue splashes on her wings just bedazzle me. No two individuals are alike, so I’m always on the prowl for a beauty like this one.

Question. Why do you suppose it’s been named Tiger Swallowtail?

Visit our other Tiger Swallowtail posts. Compare the wings of this female with the others. Amazing, isn’t it.

Soon to be posted: a male Tiger.