Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
Other Names - Milkthistle, Blessed Milk Thistle, Marian Thistle, Mary Thistle, Mediterranean Milk Thistle, Variegated Milk Thistle, Mariendistel, Holy Thistle.
Origins - S. Europe, Mediterranean Africa, Asia.
Type - Annual (herbaceous).
Hardiness (see References, below) - Zones 7 - 8.
Bloom - Summer, till frosts.
Height - Approx. 2 - 6 ft (60 - 180 cm).
Cultivation - Sunny locations, will tolerate, well drained, neutral, and alkaline well soils.
Propagation - By seeds.
Other - Milk Thistle, despite of its spiky, a little uninviting, perhaps, appearance, has actually been highly valued for its medicinal properties. All parts of the plant have for thousands of years been
used to make remedies, particularly those for the liver. It used to be said, that Milk Thistle was good protecting liver from toxins, be they from alcohol, or other sources, such as poisonous mushrooms, eaten accidentally. German research, done in the 70s has confirmed this to be true.
-and another beauty, also called Thistle...
here is also another plant called Thistle, it comes from different genus, and is called Cirsium vulgaris (see the bottom picture).
It is also known as Scottish Thistle, Bull Thistle, or Spear Thistle. It is very similar, but more slender in appearance. It is more cold tolerant and will thrive in zones 3-8 easily. In some areas, Scottish Thistle is defined as a weed, invasive one, that is. Its medicinal properties are insignificant, but, I like it; -really, no countryside would be complete without it. Young foliage (rib-less) can be eaten in salads, or whole cooked as pot greens. Blooms attract all sorts of useful insects, such as moths, butterflies, bees, tiny wasps, and many other ones. Scots like their Thistle, too. In heraldry, it symbolises nobility of birth, and character.
This official flower of Scotland is well settled there. From beautifully etched, crystalware, through great poetry, to traditional shortbread, this simple beauty is good enough to be the national symbol, and a practical, daily inspiration.
Feedback -
References - Find more about Hardiness Zones
Special Thanks
Special Thanks to Town & Country Gardens Contributors: Andreas, blogger, bulabean, chrisinburgundy, dive-angel (Karin), flickr, James Pirie of St Andrews, Jasmine&Roses, Lee Valley & veritas, peregrine@, Phillip D, pieceoflace photography;Her latest book: My World of Butterflies, Rita Crane Photography. Rita Crane, daughter of LIFE magazine photographer Ralph Crane. Her work can be seen on Flickr at Rita Crane Photography or on her website., TMR Davies, Wikipedia, W.D. Williams

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