About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What is Nyger Thistle?

Nyjer, niger, and thistle are all common names used to identify a tiny black birdseed cultivated in Asia and Africa that is high in calories and oil content, and loved by American Goldfinches. However it is not related to the purple, prickly, Canada thistle weed at all.

The scientific name for the Nyjer plant is Guizotia abyssinica. Its bloom has yellow, daisy-like flowers, and before it is shipped into the country the Nyjer seed has been heat treated to prevent the growth of any noxious seeds. Even if it did sprout, Michigan’s growing season is too short to produce a flowering plant.

In the U.S. there are 20 different kinds of native thistle plants, but by far the most common thistle in peoples yards was actually brought over from Europe. Canada thistle, Cirsium arvense, is a vigorous, competitive weed that occurs in a wide range of habitats and is difficult to control due to its ability to regrow from its extensive, deep creeping root system. It is native to Europe and was apparently introduced to North America by colonists in the early 17th century. It is illegal to sell and by 1991 it had been declared noxious by at least 35 states and 6 Canadian provinces. Canada thistle is a 2 to 5 foot tall herbaceous perennial with branched, grooved and slender stems that become covered in hair as the plant grows. Numerous small, compact rose-purple or white flowers appear on the upper stems from June to Oct. forming round, umbrella shaped clusters.

So it’s alright to come in and ask for thistle seed because we know you want Nyjer seed. However we still have to label our seed Nyjer because the Agricultural department would come in and shut us down for selling thistle, a noxious weed seed.

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