Design*Sponge · Dec 12, 2013

Flower Glossary: Thistle

Thistles sometimes get a bad rap because of their prickly exterior. They’re no fun to wander into unexpectedly, but if you work with them carefully they can add such beauty and sculptural form to an arrangement (they dry well, too!). The most common variety that I see in floral shops around my area are these stunning Blue ‘Super Nova’ Thistles like the one above. They have such a rich blue-purple color and are so striking they barely need any accompaniment in a vase. There are hundreds of varieties of thistles, but today I’m focusing on the basics, from their use in medicine and their importance to Scotland to their status as Eeyore’s most beloved snack. xo, grace

Additional Information about the Thistle:

  • Full Name: Cynareae are a tribe of plants including thistles, which are part of the broader Asteraceae (Daisy) family.
  • Growing details: Often regarded as a weed, the thistle grows quickly and easily in warm sunny areas. Because its growing style is so invasive, not much work is needed to expand flower beds once the initial plants start growing.
  • Varieties: There are hundreds of varieties of thistles, including stunning varities like the Blue ‘Super Nova’ Thistle shown above. However, the Audobon Society North American Field Guide to Flowers lists three major species in North America: the Canada, bull and yellow thistles. The Milk Thistle is particularly useful for its healing purposes.
  • Size: Thistle plants can grow up to 3.5 feet tall and their heads can be 1.5 to 4 inches in diameter.
  • Cost: Thistles sell, on average, for around $2-$3 per head.
  • Interesting facts: The thistle has healing properties. It’s sap is helpful for a variety of liver problems. (Also, Eeyore’s favorite food in Winnie the Pooh is thistle!)

Photograph by Maxwell Tielman

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