Nodding Thistle / Musk Thistle / Carduus nutans
Definitely past its prime, but I love these Nodding Thistles at any stage, but especially when the pinky purple flower has died and the beautiful pattern of the spiny bracts can be seen more clearly. Flower head is 4-6 cm in diameter. The large Nodding or Musk Thistle is my favourite species of Thistle. Unfortunately, this quite spectacular and beautiful species is on the list of Restricted, Noxious, and Nuisance Weeds In Alberta. Its name, Nodding Thistle, comes from the fact that the flower heads commonly droop to a 90° to 120° angle from the stem when mature. It is a biennial that spreads rapidly by seed forming extremely dense stands, though when I have seen this species growing in several places within the city, there are usually only a few of them. It looks like i may have captured two insects as well - a teeny red mite on the left of the stem, and something else in the centre of the stem. I don't know if the latter is a moth or a beetle.
This photo was taken at the Erlton/Roxboro Natural Area, not far from downtown Calgary, yesterday afternoon, 24 July 2018. It is the richest botanical area, for its size, within the city. Over 385 species have been recorded in an area of about three hectares. (All of Fish Creek Provincial Park has only about 460 species). Eighty species, however, are aliens, now occupying 90+% of the Erlton/Roxboro Natural Area. It is such a shame to see how the area is being devastated by plants that include Baby's Breath, Creeping Thistle, Yellow Clematis and other invasive species.
The weather forecast for yesterday afternoon called for a risk of a thunderstorm. The sky was dark and gloomy, but we were very lucky that the rain stayed away. Our temperature at 9:00 this morning, 25 July 2018, is only 12C, which feels really good. This afternoon, it is supposed to get up to 23C.