Montana Falls Park Wildflowers
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

This plant has escaped cultivation and is now often found in the wild. The specimen found in Montana Falls Park is the only one I have found in the Fern Bluff area so far this year, however. It is either an annual or a biennial, and blooms in June, producing a pinkish red flowerhead composed of numerous disk flowers.

Page 3: Mystery Flower

Most thistles are not considered, by the general public, to be things of beauty. The Milk Thistle found in Montana Falls Park on April 1, 2001 is possibly an exception, but even then you have to look at it carefully. The threatening spines on its leaves, which are capable of inflicting immediate and somewhat lasting pain, seem to overshadow any beauty it might otherwise have.

Unless you happen to have a liver ailment, and are taking the herbal supplement Silymarin. Then, if you remember that Silymarin is an extract from the seeds of the Milk Thistle, you may appreciate it more.

S. marianum is not native to the Americas, but is common in Europe. It was introduced to this country some time ago, where it has been cultivated for its seed and, for some, its young leaves which, when the spines are removed, make a tasty pot herb.

 


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