The allure of the milk thistle - opinion

Milk thistles, beautiful to look at, poisonous to eat.

 thistle (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)

With spring now in full bloom, fields of green and other lush colors are gracing the country’s landscape. Gentle flowers, such as the anemone or buttercup, attract attention with their softness and fragility. 

 thistles (credit: ITSIK MAROM) thistles (credit: ITSIK MAROM)

However, while not all plants – such as the milk thistle – are so gentle and fragile, they still produce colorful and beautiful flowers. This thistle is often seen along the roadside but is often ignored due to its sharp and plentiful spines.

 Milk thistle leaves (credit: ITSIK MAROM) Milk thistle leaves (credit: ITSIK MAROM)

Milk thistle can be recognized very easily by its wide green leaves and milky-white veins. They can grow up to 2 meters, and its flower heads are large and typically purple-crimson in color. There is also a subspecies with white flowers. 

 Thistle (credit: ITSIK MAROM) Thistle (credit: ITSIK MAROM)

Although grazing livestock won’t hesitate to eat other thistles, milk thistle is toxic to them. It contains a chemical substance that can cause oxygen deprivation in cattle, killing sheep, goat or cows that eat its shiny leaves. 

 milk thistle (credit: ITSIK MAROM) milk thistle (credit: ITSIK MAROM)

This is just one reason to keep a respectable distance from milk thistle – but this spring, be sure to enjoy the allure of its beautiful flowers nonetheless.