The botanical name for the national floral emblem of Scotland, the thistle, is Onopordum acanthium, and as we all know, thistle plants have sharp prickles. The sharp protrusions can be anywhere on the plants, especially on the edges of the leaves and stems, and often they protect plants from grazing animals.
There is an old cautionary tale about Norsemen who were trying to invade Scotland in ancient times. One night, one barefoot invading soldier stood on a thistle and alerted the Scots with his screams. No wonder this plant has been the Scottish national emblem since the 1200s. It is also the emblem of the Scottish police to this day, and in the language of flowers a Scottish thistle means retaliation.
In olden days, it was used as a remedy for jaundice, vertigo, canker sores, and even the plague. The Roman naturalist Pliny even though that it could restore bald men's hair.
The flower cannot be called pretty, so perhaps "striking” is better, and purple and lavender are its usual colors.
It was an ancient Scottish symbol for noble birth.
Thistles that bloom are usually preferred, both as symbols and in gardens, to those that just have those fierce thorns. Abraham Lincoln referred to them, somewhat negatively, when he said, "I have always tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower when I thought a flower would grow in thought and mind."
This is Moya Andrews, and today we focused on the thistle.