Posted by: 347bennetrd | October 29, 2010

Nodding Duty

No, I’m not referring to an employee-driven strategy to pander to  the boss’s whims, but rather a concerted attack on one of the most pernicious herbaceous weeds, the nodding thistle [cue indrawn breath].

Yes, superficially it may look like any other thistle, but let me tell you, this sly devil puts the scotch, californian and variegated thistles to shame through its extraordinary ability to seed and grow little babies and then to develop into thicketlike bushes through which nothing can pass.  Its reknown even extends to our district council, which takes annual aerial photographs in order to check that farmers are taking adequate care to prevent its spread.

Here are the tools of the trade for combatting it;

You can see the culprit in the background – note the showy bloom hanging in the characteristic and eponymous “nodding” position  (I’ll add another photo later).  The sturdy leather glove plucks the seed heads (at any stage of development from bud to ready-to-blow-away-with-the-wind) and stores them in the sack for later burial.  Burning could result in a seed being caught by a capricious breeze and blown to a site perfect for germination…  And the final weapon in the arsenal is the prill stick.  This deceptively simple tool is filled with high strength tordon prills or granules.  Once a nodder is spotted, you line up the metal end on the centre of the thistle and press down whereby the spring-loaded mechanism lets drop a portion of prills.  Yes!!  Death to the nodder!

It is quite a pretty flower though I have to admit.  And with a delightful fragrance.  Bumblebees in particular appear to be attracted to them.  The colour is also the most delicate shade of pink and purple.

Today was quite an enjoyable day for being on nodding duty – overcast and not too hot.  Also we have begun our campaign early in the season while the nodders are still small.  No dealing to giant bushes this time thank you very much.



  1. Good ol nodding, hmmmmm, I know this is Jo’s blog, but one can’t help but feel he needs to stress his own experiences, ESPECIALLY with these things (rather ugly looking as well I must admit) known as NODDERS. Don’t be put off by the above picture that shows a nodder in all it’s beauty, where in fact, it is nothing more then a nuisance to the farming envirnoment. First question, there must be a better way then manually dealing to these things?? Second question, surely there’s farm stock that thrive on nodders (??), if not, then breed some that can!!!! Thirdly, can you please buy some gloves where the thistle heads don’t come through the glove ouch!!

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