Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
Spear thistles are now flowering on Wilden Marsh. They are often ruderal species, colonising bare disturbed ground, but also persist well on heavily grazed land and are unpalatable to most grazing animals. Nitrogen-rich soils help increase its proliferation. The flowers are a rich nectar source used by numerous pollinating insects, including honey bees, wool-carder bees, and many butterflies. The seeds are eaten by goldfinches, linnets and greenfinches. The seeds are dispersed by wind, mud, water, and possibly also by ants; they do not show significant long-term dormancy, most germinating soon after dispersal and only a few lasting up to four years in the soil seed bank. Seed is also often spread by human activity such as hay bales.