Thursday, May 13, 2010



milk thistle
Silybum marianum
Asteraceae

Just looking at photos, you'd think this plant is attractive. However, I could really do without milk thistle on hikes. The leaves are extremely prickly and hurt through thin hiking pants. I wasn't surprised to find out it's an invasive plant.

ps 04/14/11 - Found this blog post from FeralKevin about preparing thistles as food. See comments below for how I got to this.

6 comments:

John W. Wall said...

Believe it or not, milk thistle is a pretty decent wild edible plant -- though you do have to be careful handling the leaves! It's also a medicinal plant, said to be good for the liver. You can even buy it in capsules.

Nature ID said...

Haha! Thanks for this info, John. I'll have to share it with my sister-in-law who fancies eating "weeds" from her Oregon yard. She fed us burdock root along with a couple other roots from the Apiaceae family. I was praying one of them wasn't water hemlock! So, have you prepared and eaten milk thistle yourself?

Janet said...

Ewww....I wonder if your sister in law is our former tenant here; she planted a bunch of it in the yard for purifying her liver and while she moved on to Oregon, it lives on in annual eruptions in random spots of the backyard from which we must remove it while its still small and tender enough to do so without maiming our hands!

Nature ID said...

Too funny, Janet. I can't imagine anyone actually wanting to plant milk thistle; it'd be a pain in the garden, literally. I do like the idea of eating wild plants, but in my experience I'd rather eat good organic carrots and spinach. Seems spinach is the veggie version of "It tastes like chicken." Thanks to John's comment, I found this informative article: http://www.edible-plants.com/milkthistle.html

John W. Wall said...

Yes, I have eaten it by the way. I don't eat lots, but every year I at least "keep in touch" with the few edibles I've learned and enjoy.

biobabbler said...

This is one of the SEVERAL species of thistles I've been walking through 2 days each in the last 2 weeks.

One word: OW!