Photo 1. The cotton thistle (in Croatian: magareći trn /donkey thistle/, bijela sikavica, bodljača or kravačac) is one of the many species of prickly plants – thistles – that grow on the Kvarner Bay islands or along the coast, the homeland of the north Adriatic donkey (Photo by M. Randić)
Thistles – a prickly pasture for donkeys
The harsh living conditions, to which our native donkey breeds – primarily, the north Adriatic donkey (as well as the Dalmatian or Littoral-Dinaride donkey) – are accustomed, include low-quality pasturage, which meets their requirements.
The semi-desert origin of the wild ancestors of donkeys enables their descendants of today to graze on tough plants that are not suitable pasture for other animals, in particular, horses that have always been much choosier when it comes to the quality of pastures and living conditions.
Among the plants that donkeys graze, certain prickly types such as the cotton thistle and other thistles stand out. Thistles have coarse, toothed leaves with spikes and prickles, and they commonly grow on dry, soil poor and mostly rocky karst terrain of the Kvarner Bay islands and the littoral.