There's something strange growing in the MacArthurs' backyard.
No one knows how it got there and the only thing for certain is that it's big. And it doesn't appear to have any plans to stop growing anytime soon.
Jim and Arlene MacArthur's backyard in Brackendale has become a local curiosity thanks to the enormous and potentially world-record-breaking thistle plant.
“It's a biennial, so it first started growing last year,” Arlene said. “I first noticed it last summer and it stayed like that all winter. Then in the beginning of June we took a picture of my five-year-old grandson in front of it and he's about three feet tall — it was the same height as him. But then we took another picture on June 22 and the plant was almost twice as high as him.”
By July 13, the plant was 99 inches tall and the last measurement saw it reach a height of 102 inches — or eight feet, six inches.
“We figured that it grew an inch a day in June,” he said. “We're just fascinated by it because we have never seen anything like it. Not only is it so tall, but it's also a different colour, it's a kind of white. I looked it up in our book and I don't think it's native to Squamish.”
MacArthur said she's unclear where the plant came from, but did offer a few theories.
“We did have some bulldozer work done out back, so it's possible that it came from that,” she said. “Our neighbour from behind is from Greece and he said it looks similar to the ones they have out there. Maybe they brought it back with them on their luggage or shoes. We've never had anything like that in our yard before.”
The plant has attracted the attention of the entire neighbourhood.
“Everybody is all excited about it,” she said. “Our next-door neighbour has come and taken some pictures and everyone seems pretty amazed by it.”
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the tallest thistle in the world was grown in Ottawa by Christine Sadler in August 2010. The official measurement of the plant was eight feet, but the MacArthurs' plant towers over Sadler's by at least six inches.
“To have a world record… that would be something,” she said.
Paperwork has been submitted to Guinness and the MacArthurs are waiting on the word for their next move. They eventually will take the plant out and remove the flowers so it doesn't spread.
“We'll probably take it out once it stops blooming and also burn the flowers,” she said. “We mostly let it be, but we pick the flowers off when it's finished blooming because we don't want it to go to seed.”
In the meantime, the towering thistle will continue to grow at the property on Axen Road in Brackendale, while the MacArthurs' wait for the official word from Guinness.