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Milk Thistle

Silybum marianum


an annual or biannual plant of the Asteraceae family. This fairly typical thistle has red to purple flowers and shiny pale green leaves with white veins. Originally a native of Southern Europe through to Asia, it is now found throughout the world. The medicinal parts of the plant are the ripe seeds. It grows 40 to 100 cm tall. The stem is grooved and more or less cottony. The leaves are oblong to lanceolate. They are either wavy loved or pinnated, have spiny edges. They are hairless, shiny green, with milk white veins. The flower heads are 4 to 5 cm long and wide, of red-purple colour. They flower from June to August. The bracts are hairless, with triangular, spine-edged appendages, tipped with a stout yellow spine. The achenes are black, with simple long white pappus, surrounded by a yellow basal ring.


Possibly native near the coast of south east England and Iberia. It has been widely introduced outside its natural range, for example into North America, Australia, and New Zealand where it is considered an invasive weed. Cultivated fields for the production of raw-material for the pharmaceutical industry exists in bigger dimension in Austria (Region Waldviertel), Germany, Hungary, Poland, China and Argentina. In Europe it is sown yearly in March-April. The harvest in 2 steps (cutting and threshing) takes place in August, about 2–3 weeks after the flowering. This one found in a Mediterranean Shrubland


The extract is now also being used in a beverage called Rockstar Energy Drink as an energy enhancing agent. Funny!

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Monda, Andalucía, Spain

Lat: 36.63, Long: -4.83

Spotted on May 13, 2010
Submitted on May 13, 2010

Spotted for mission

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