We have several different kinds of flowering thistles growing here in The Sea Ranch Our native plant experts tell us that our local tribe of thistles include Bull Thistle, Milk Thistle, Italian Thistle, Canada Thistle, Cobweb Thistle, and Swamp Thistle. Unfortunately, we are not experts in telling which is which. Their blooms are usually either yellow or magenta. Some are pretty scruffy looking and some are actually quite beautiful. All are protected by some fairly ferocious stickers and prickles so watch out if you get close. (They are another reason why it is good idea to stay on the trails.)

thistle

thistle

thistle

thistle & friend

Most folks see thistles and think weed, but our pollinators think otherwise. Because of this fact, they are a great boon to photographers pursuing the quintessential butterfly image. In ancient times, thistles were regularly eaten by humans, but about the only thistle that we consume presently is the artichoke. (Unfortunately, we have trouble getting them to grow here on The Ranch.) Herbalists have long thought highly of thistles and use some of them in various therapeutic remedies. A long time ago they were thought to be a cure for baldness, but now days they are mostly used for illnesses related to the liver. Our various thistles are in bloom from April into summer.

Celts and Scots took thistle to be a symbol of nobility.
They liked the fact that if you provoke a thistle you get hurt.