The Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is a flowering plant in the Asteraceae family. It is also called the Blessed Milk Thistle, the Mary Thistle, or the Scotch Thistle. Children often call it the Silly Bum Thistle or the Silly Bottom Thistle.
It is native to the Mediterranean and southern Europe.
It can grow to 30-200 centimetres (12-79 inches) tall.
Its pale-green leaves have white veins with spiny edges. There are prickles and all over it.
The fruit is a black achenes with a long white pappus, which acts like a parachute as it floats in the air. When the seeds disperse into the air, they are called thistledown.
The flowers are purple or reddish-purple with a conical shape measuring about 4-12 centimetres (1-5 inches) wide. Many insects like the nectar from its flowers.
It blooms from June to August in the Northern Hemisphere and December to January in the Southern Hemisphere.
Photographed in Paris, France, January 2020 and July 2021.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls