Since the early 2000s, the Village of Ruidoso, New Mexico, has been on a campaign to eradicate every thistle plant that grows within village limits. In 2007, the Council passed an ordinance requiring property owners to remove these “noxious” weeds. Failure to comply can carry a $50 fine. The thistles are considered a nuisance because they don’t feed the wildlife, and they crowd out native plants. Volunteers tramp through the grasses along roadsides looking for signs of the offenders. They’ve done a good job of removing the thistles, but of course, this kind of battle is never completely won. I saw the criminal pictured above on a recent morning walk, appropriately behind bars. I won’t tell where I saw it.
I took a photo of the specimen below last year because I thought it was pretty — a redeeming quality to my mind. No living thing is all bad. Besides, the thistle has medicinal properties.