Milk thistle: language of milk thistle flowers and plants

Milk thistle: language of milk thistle flowers and plants



Silybum marianum




The milk thistle has always been considered a solar plant therefore with a positive meaning.

There are numerous legends about this plant, one of which is that it allows us to understand if a person loves us but does not have the courage to say it. To understand it, it is said that you have to pick up a milk thistle in full bloom on the occasion of the San Giovanni Festival and after having scorched it, you have to expose it during the night of the eve in a glass of water: if the color of the thistle is revived, it means that love exists. .

Another German legend tells that in a place where a murder had been committed, a thistle with a shape that resembled a person grew every day at noon, and as soon as the thistle had assumed the complete shape with arms, legs and twelve human heads the thistle disappeared. One day a shepherd with a stick passed at midday in the place where the thistle grew and his stick was charred and the arm holding the stick was paralyzed. The meaning of this tale according to AngeloDe Gubernatis this story demonstrates how the thistle symbolizes the sun.

Even in the countries of Eastern Europe there are numerous legends to support the fact that the milk thistle is a solar plant. In Prussia and Bohemia a thistle flower was pressed to free the animals' bodies from worms by reciting "my little thistle, my little thistle, I will not free your head until you free .... (the cat for example) from worms" .

In Estonia, thistle was placed in a wheat field to ward off evil spirits.

Even Apuleius in his "De virtutibus herbarium" said: "When the moon is incapricorn with the new sun, take the herb called Cardum sylvaticum and as long as you take it with you nothing bad will happen to you. "

Milk thistle, uses and properties

Between medical plants the best known and richest in properties is the Milk thistle, or milky thistle, a very common plant both in northern and southern Italy, but widespread throughout the Mediterranean basin. The Silybum marianum, this is its botanical name, is a pherbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family, used in phytotherapy against the liver disorders.

The name Marian or milky it derives from a Christian tale according to which the leaves of this plant were stained by the milk of the Madonna while hiding Jesus from the soldiers of Herod.

The Milk thistle it is useful to combat hypotension, or low blood pressure, in particular the decoction of the roots the infusion of leaves with a liter of white wine is used to combat lack of appetite, and the flowers, leaves and boiled roots can be consumed cooked like artichokes.

THE fruits are the part used in herbal medicine of the Milk thistle, as they contain the Silymarin, the substance considered the main responsible for the beneficial properties of this plant which, however, also contains tannins is bitter principles.

Milk thistle helps protect the liver, just think that in the past it was used to treat hepatitis C and that it is used to help those who work with toxic chemicals to detoxify. Recently, this plant has been given to cancer patients to reduce the effects of chemotherapy on the liver.

Milk thistle herbal tea

Very useful for the liver, the milk thistle herbal tea is prepared as follows: pour 150 ml of almost boiling water over two teaspoons of seeds of minced milk thistle, let it rest for a quarter of an hour and then filtered. Drink one cup three times a day half an hour before meals for three weeks. This herbal tea can also be prepared with dried plant pour the boiling water over half a teaspoon of dried and chopped milk thistle and let it rest for about ten minutes and then strain, drink two or three cups a day.

Milk thistle: properties and phytotherapeutic uses

The Milk thistle is best known for its interesting healing properties and especially for its protective action against the liver. It can be very useful then in chronic hepatitis patients because it is able to cure the most common symptoms: bloating, loss of appetite, asthenia, dyspepsia, sudden jaundice. For the same reason, it is also used for the symptomatic treatment of patients on chemotherapy.

Also, milk thistle is an excellent one remedy in case of mushroom poisoning like Amanita phalloides and is able to regenerate liver tissues.

Finally, we also remember that this plant is used by new mothers for stimulate the production of breast milk. This is thanks to the numerous flavonoids it contains.

The Milk Thistle in Ornithology

The milk thistle is a biennial herbaceous plant of the Asteraceae family present in all regions of the Mediterranean, especially in the areas in central and southern Italy. It blooms between July and August - Its natural habitat is in the uncultivated areas, in the ruins, along the roads. It is a vigorous and robust plant, with thorny leaves that can reach 40 cm in length. During the second year of life, it can develop a stem 1 or 2 meters high with purple flowers at the top, similar to that of the artichoke, and very fragrant, loved by finches and the wonderful Goldfinches who go crazy for its seeds.

  • The beautiful milk thistle plant in bloom

Among the medicinal plants, milk thistle is one of the most appreciated and respected, especially when it comes to purification and liver well-being benefits. Its beneficial properties are attributable to silymarinand a mixture of flavonolignans capable of carrying out an interesting protective activity on the liver. It has also been shown that silymarin inhibits the production of lecotriene which explains its anti-inflammatory effect and its regenerating action on liver cells. Its antioxidant properties are also very valid, that is the anti-free radical action of milk thistle, as well as its ability to strengthen the capillary walls, therefore it also has a beneficial action on circulation and heart.

  • Milk thistle flowers and seeds

In the ornithological field we can exploit all its benefits by administering it to our subjects, both to parrots and exotic birds. You may be wondering how and for what reason to supply the thistle to the subjects, let's find out together.

As we all know, many seed mixes our parrots eat contain fatty, oily, and potentially harmful seeds such as the infamous black sunflower. But other foods can also be fatty, such as egg pastries, and in general all those foods given more than they should. An incorrect diet, poorly balanced, or a low quality blend that contains contaminated seeds. it overloads the liver function, and compromises its regular functioning. For example - in the agapornis or in the ashes - red spots can appear in the plumage, a sign that goes to inform us of problems that can affect the liver.

Another use we can make of thistle is to administer it after antibiotic or vitamin treatments, to purify the body and bring it back to normal.

As you have seen, a small seed can be a great tonic for our feathered friends. I use thistle in my parrot farm and I am satisfied with the health of my animals, because with this, and many other seeds, plants, complementary feeds, I can vary the diet of my birds, keeping them fit and in great shape. health.

Thank you all for reading this article, and if you find it useful, share itin Facebook groups dedicated to parrots!

Are you looking for quality products for your parrots and exotic birds at an affordable price and with delivery directly to your home? Visit Il Trespolo Shop, the online shop dedicated to ornithology where you can find the products of the best brands at discounted prices and receive them at home in 24 / 48h by express courier! We are waiting for you, for you immediately a 3% discount with the code ITS21 click on the banner to enter:


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Description
    • 2.1 Stem
    • 2.2 Leaves
    • 2.3 Inflorescence
    • 2.4 Flowers
    • 2.5 Fruits
  • 3 Playback
  • 4 Distribution and habitat
  • 5 Systematics
    • 5.1 Phylogeny
  • 6 Uses
    • 6.1 Kitchen
    • 6.2 Industry
  • 7 Various news
  • 8 Notes
  • 9 Bibliography
  • 10 Related items
  • 11 Other projects
  • 12 External links

The genus name (Carduus) derives from the Latin (= "cardo" in Italian) which in turn could derive from a Greek word whose meaning is close to our word "rapare" other searches would derive from another root, always Greek, "ardis" ( = “Tip of the arrow”), alluding to the thorniness of plants of this genus. [3]
The antiquity of the thistle is attested by various legends that associate this flower with the Sicilian shepherd Dafni, whose death (thanks to the intervention of Pan and Diana), the Earth, full of pain, gave birth to a plant full of thorns, the " thistle "in fact. It should also be remembered that in the Aryan traditions the thistle was associated with the god Thor (god of war and lightning). [3]
The Italian name "Cardo" is generic as in common language it refers to different genera and species of plants. Among the genera that are directly called "thistle", or have one or more species that are commonly called with this name, we mention: Carduus, Carduncellus, Carlina, Centaury, Cnicus, Cynara, Echinops, Galactites, Jurinea, Onopordum, Scolymus, Silybum, Tyrimnus, all of the Asteraceae family. But also in other families we have genera with species that are commonly called "thistles": the genus Eryngium of the Apiaceae family or genus Dipsacus of the Dipsacaceae family.

The prevalent biological form is biennial hemicryptophyte (H bienn): they are perennial plants by means of buds placed on the ground with a biennial growth cycle this means that the first year produces at most a low basal rosette of leaves, while the second year it blooms completely. However, if the climate is warm enough, it can bloom during the first year of life. The number of flower heads for each plant can vary not only from the species but also from the characteristics of the site in which the plant is located and can range from 1 to over 100. Another biological form, for this genus, is scapose hemicryptophyte (H scap), that is perennial plants by means of buds placed on the ground formed by a long floral axis with few leaves. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]
The height of these plants in the Italian (and also European) flora varies from 1 dm to 15 dm. In North America an average high height is 20 dm, but in some cases it can reach 40 dm. [10]

Trunk Edit

The stem is erect (but there are acauli species - without stem) branched or simple, and at times it is winged with thorns in the terminal part the leaves may be absent or in any case they are reduced often the phenomenon of the decay of the leaves along the stem at the bottom occurs. The size of the stem can range from a few centimeters to over a meter (in non-European areas, individuals of some species have been found several meters tall). The surface can be both tomentose and hairless.

Leaves Edit

The leaves, sessile (rarely petiolate, often decurrent), are generally lanceolate in shape the lamina can be slightly toothed or deeply engraved in 10 and more lobes the leaf margin is almost always thorny thorns that can be soft or pungent and hard the arrangement of the leaves along the stem is alternate and the basal ones form a rosette.

Inflorescence Edit

The inflorescence is formed by flower heads (single or from 2 to 20) each consisting of numerous tubular flowers, (the ligulate type, present in most of the Asteraceae, is absent here. [11]) The flower head is supported by a peduncle naked or bracteate (with enveloping leaves) or winged and thorny. The main part is the envelope (cylindrical or hemispherical or ovoid) surrounded by several series (7 - 10 or more) of spiny scales, which sometimes diverge from the central body in an erect or patent way and are sometimes also reflected downwards. The shape of the scales is important as a distinctive character of the species and can be linear, lanceolate or ovate with median narrowing or not, sharply narrowed with a pointed or rounded spine. The receptacle is equipped with steel wool. [12]

Flowers Edit

The single flowers are hermaphroditic, tetracyclic or with 4 whorls (calyx - corolla - androecium - gynoecium) and pentamers (each whorl has 5 elements).

  • Floral formula:
  • / x K. ∞ < displaystyle infty>, [C. (5), TO (5)], G. 2 (inferior), achene [13]
  • Glass: the glass is reduced to a minimum.
  • Corolla: the corolla is tubular (campanulate towards the apex) and ending with 5 colored lacines usually purple, or red and sometimes white (but rarely). In the corolla there are generally three parts: tube, throat and lobes whose shapes and sizes are used to distinguish the various species.
  • Androceus: the stamens are 5 and have free and hairy filaments that have the particularity of making movements to release the pollen. The anthers are caudate at the base (they have a short tail).
  • Gineceum: the ovary is inferior the stigmas are hairless (they have a tuft of hair only at the apex of the stylus that protrudes from the corolla). The stigmatic surface is placed inside the stigmas. [14]

Fruits Edit

The fruits are smooth achenes of light color with a slightly compressed obovoid-oblong shape and provided with pappus. The achenes are pulleys that is they have protuberances to facilitate the detachment of the seeds. [15] The pappus is formed by simple and straight bristles with rough or finely bearded edges, connected to the base and arranged in a single-piece deciduous ring. [12]
The pappus has the function of helping the dispersion of the seed carried by the wind. Each plant can produce thousands of seeds (there can be over 100,000 seeds in total - 1,000 or more per flower head) and are scattered about a month after flowering. A single seed appears to remain active in the soil for up to 10 years. This of course does not facilitate the control of these plants which in various parts of the world are considered weeds.

  • Pollination: pollination occurs through insects (entomogamous pollination).
  • Reproduction: fertilization basically takes place via pollination of the flowers (see above).
  • Dispersion: the seeds falling to the ground (after being transported for a few meters by the wind thanks to the pappus - anemocora dissemination) are subsequently dispersed mainly by insects such as ants (myrmecoria dissemination).

This genus includes plants native to Europe (including the Canaries), Asia (up to Japan) and Africa (Mediterranean range).
In Italy it is a very widespread genus and it can be found practically everywhere also because its species are very robust and grow well in any environment and in the most disparate conditions.

The same topic in detail: Italian species of Carduus § Alpine area.

The family this item belongs to (Asteraceae or Compositae, nomen conservandum) is the most numerous in the plant world, it includes over 23000 species distributed over 1535 genera [16] (22750 species and 1530 genera according to other sources). [17] The Carduoideae subfamily is one of the 12 subfamilies into which the Asteraceae family has been divided, while Cardueae is one of the 4 tribes of the subfamily. The Cardueae tribe in turn is divided into 12 sub-tribes (the Carduinae sub-tribe is one of them). The genre Carduus lists 92 species distributed in Eurasia and partly in North Africa, of which about twenty are spontaneously present on the Italian territory. [8] [7] [18] [19] [9]

Phylogeny Edit

The genus of this entry is inserted in the taxonomic group of the Carduinae sub-tribe. [9] Previously it was provisionally included in the informal taxonomic group "Carduus-Cirsium Group". [7] The phylogenetic position of this group within the sub-tribe is quite close to the "core" of the sub-tribe (with the genus Cirsium forms a "brother group") and from the molecular analyzes it has been calculated in 7.2 million years ago the separation of this genus from the rest of the group. [18] [19]
The genre Carduus it is often botanically "confused" with other genera such as that of Cirsium or Cnicus (in fact, at one time several species of the latter genus belonged to the genus Carduus - in the 18th century the splitting of the genus was proposed by botanists Carduus passing several species to the new genus Cnicus [3]). A way to distinguish the gender Carduus from the others it is to examine the bristles of the pappus: in this the bristles are toothed and bristly and not feathery straws such as in the genus Cirsium. [20]
Apart from issues relating to the nomenclature, there is a real difficulty in managing this genus as the various species have few truly distinctive characters and the variability of some groups is very high as well as the possibility of hybridization. Italy can also be considered the territory with the greatest presence of species of this genus with great possibilities of creating hybrids that are difficult to identify.

The same topic in detail: Carduus species is Italian species of Carduus.

The chromosomal number of the species of this genus is: 2n = 16, 18, 20, 22 and 26. [10]

According to the traditional classification, the placement of this genus is as follows: [21]

Recent phylogenetic studies place the genus instead Carduus in the subfamily Carduoideae [8]
Within the Carduinae sub-tribe the genus Carduus is part of the "Carduus-Cirsium Group" together with the following related genera: [12] [19]

  • CirsiumMill., 1754 - 455 species distributed in Eurasia, North America and North Africa.
  • PicnomonAdans., 1763 - 1 species (Picnomon acarna(L.) Cass.) distributed in the Mediterranean region.
  • SilybumAdans., 1763 - 2 species distributed in the Mediterranean region.
  • TyrimnusCass., 1818 - 1 species (Tyrimnus leucographusCass.) distributed in the Mediterranean region.
  • NotobasisCass., 1822 - 1 species (Notobasis syriaca(L.) Cass.) distributed in the Mediterranean region.

The main synapomorphies recognized for this genus are: [14]

  • the leaves in septate lamina
  • the edges of the leaves and the apex of the prickly involucral bracts
  • a ring of hair under the branching of the stylus.

Kitchen Edit

Some parts of these plants (if harvested when they are still young) are used for human food (they recall the taste of the artichoke).

Industry Edit

From the plants of the "thistles" oil and paper can be obtained. Furthermore, in ancient times the dried inflorescences of woolen thistle they were used for carding wool.


  • 1 Description
  • 2 Distribution
  • 3 Systematics
    • 3.1 Phylogeny
  • 4 Cultivation
  • 5 Use and pharmacological properties
  • 6 Medicinal properties
  • 7 Historical notes
  • 8 Notes
  • 9 Bibliography
  • 10 Other projects
  • 11 External links

It is a plant with a vigorous habit, which in the first year forms a basal rosette of leaves and in the second year the floral scape up to over 150 cm high. The whole plant is hairless and thorny. The scape is robust, streaked and branched, with erect branches.

The leaves are pinnatifid, with wavy and sinuous-lobed margins, triangular lobes ending with robust thorns. The lamina is glauchescent green, glabrous, thickly spotted with white. The basal leaves are petiolate and can reach 40 cm in length, those of the scape are sessile and amplessicauli, smaller and less divided, expanded at the base into two orecchiette.

The flowers are hermaphroditic, with a purple-red tubular corolla. They are gathered in large, globular terminal flower heads, covered with robust bracts. These have a widened base which extends into a patent, rigid, narrow and sharp edge, provided with a series of spines on the margins and ending with a robust apical spine. The bracts tend to curve downwards during fruiting. Flowering takes place in full spring, from April to May of the second year.

The fruits are oblong follicles, narrower at the base and laterally compressed, provided with a bristly pappus at the apex. They ripen in the middle of summer and after the opening of the flower heads they are scattered by the wind.

The root is robust and taproot, capable of naturally tilling compact soils.

It is distributed in all regions of the Mediterranean from sea level to the submontane area. Rarer in the north, it becomes more frequent passing to the center, south and islands until it becomes intrusive. It is found in the ruins, along the roads, in the uncultivated areas.

The family this item belongs to (Asteraceae or Compositae, nomen conservandum) is the most numerous in the plant world, it includes over 23,000 species distributed over 1535 genera [4] (22750 species and 1530 genera according to other sources). [5] The subfamily Carduoideae is one of the 12 subfamilies into which the Asteraceae family has been divided, while Cardueae is one of the 4 tribes of the subfamily. The Cardueae tribe in turn is divided into 12 sub-tribes (the Carduinae sub-tribe is one of them). The genre Silybum lists 2 species with a Mediterranean and Western Asian distribution, one of which occurs spontaneously on the Italian territory. [2] [6] [7] [8] [9]

Phylogeny Edit

The genus of this entry is inserted in the taxonomic group of the Carduinae sub-tribe. Previously it was provisionally included in the informal taxonomic group "Carduus-Cirsium Group". [6] The phylogenetic position of this genus within the sub-tribe is quite central close to the genus Carduus. [8] [9] [10]

The seeds are collected by shaking the flower heads (imitating the action of the wind) and are placed directly in the ground. The plant also has an easy spontaneous spread.

The erect and vigorous stem and the leaves with a marbled design exert great fascination in gardening. The whole surface of the leaf is shiny, with large white veins that stand out on the light green and has a leathery consistency, flexible and difficult to break. The waxy coating facilitates the flow of water by means of large drops.

In the first year of life, the thistle develops the basal rosette, with large and lobed lateral leaves, while the leaves that develop on the stem are smaller and less incised. The plugs are difficult to handle and require the use of protective gloves.

In the second year the plants, from the month of May, develop a stem 1-2 meters high, with purple-colored, perfumed flowers at the top, similar to those of the artichoke.

Cultivation is carried out to form irregular spots or rows with a density of 8-10 plants per square meter.

The plants adapt to any type of soil, with full sun exposure they do not need to be irrigated except in the face of prolonged drought [11].

Milk thistle is a medicinal plant, used for the treatment of liver diseases. Due to its properties it is also used as an ingredient in the preparation of herbal liqueurs. The phytocomplex has been used successfully in the treatment of patients with symptomatic chronic hepatitis, with complete disappearance of clinical symptoms, such as asthenia, loss of appetite, severe meteorism, dyspepsia, sudden jaundice, and with normalization of transaminases. The same results can be obtained in patients undergoing heavy cycles of chemotherapy with severe bi-oral and clinical alterations regarding liver function.

Modern phytotherapy uses it in decoction or infusion, but with some caution in patients suffering from hypertension, due to the presence of tyramine. One way to prepare the infusion is as follows: bring a liter of water to a boil, pour about 12 grams of milk thistle seeds and continue boiling for 15 minutes, turn off the heat, let it rest for 10 minutes and finally filter. For a large cup (400 ml), the dose of seeds is approximately equal to one teaspoon (4.7 grams).

The milk thistle phytocomplex (especially the silibinin component) reduces transaminases and other biohumoral indices in the course of hepatopathies and also seems to be suitable for hepato-renal syndrome. Possible, according to works in vitro to be confirmed in vivo, interactions with cytochrome P450, especially with the CYP 3A4 isoform involved in the metabolism of many synthetic drugs. (P. Campagna, Herbal drugs, Minerva Medica, ed. 2008)
Other flavonolignans present, however, have shown individual properties that would partially explain the ability of the phytocomplex to induce a certain regeneration of liver cells:

  • there silandrina it would interfere with the synthesis of triglycerides and is also capable of modulating the function of cyclooxygenase II (inducible in inflammation)
  • there silimonin was found to be an ATP-dependent pump modulator of multidrug resistance (GP170 / MDRG) and the 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzyme.

It is therefore possible that the generic action is to stimulate the cellular elimination of toxins and reduce the inflammatory component, present in fatty hepatitis, alcoholic and hormonal therapies with steroids.

First of all, it is good to remember that the part of the plant richest in beneficial substances and therefore useful for phytotherapeutic purposes are the seeds. Milk thistle can be found in different formulations, both in pharmacies and in herbal medicine: from mother tincture to tablets to drops. The price varies according to the concentration and in these cases the active ingredients are more concentrated, but it is also possible to use i directly seeds of the plant, to prepare a detoxifying and hepato-protective decoction.

The recipe for making the decoction is very simple: just put the seeds in cold water (a spoon for each cup) and bring to a boil. Let it boil for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and leave it in infusion for about 10 minutes. Filter everything and drink the decoction, preferably between meals. This herbal tea is a real panacea, both to purify and to protect the liver.

Video: Dandelion - Gabbie Hanna Official Video