Blessed Milk Thistle
Blessed Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is a milk thistle plant from the Asteraceae family. This thistle can now be found the world over, but was originally from southern Europe through Asia.
The Blessed Milk Thistle has also been known as the Marian Thistle, St Mary's Thistle, and Mediterranean Milk Thistle among others.
The seeds of the Blessed Milk Thistle plant has long been used for treating liver diseases, such as jaundice and hepatitis, gallbladder diseases, and as a protective agent for poisons affecting the liver.
The Blessed Milk Thistle is fairly typical for milk thistles. This plant grows to anywhere from 40 cm to 100 cm tall, with 4 to 5 cm long purple to red flowers (which bloom from June to August). It has pale green, hairless, and shiny leaves which are oblong to lanceolate in shape.
The stem of the Blessed Milk Thistle is grooved, with a soft cotton-like feel. The bracts found on this plant are also hairless, and have triangular-shaped appendages with spines along their edges. The achenes are black and sport a white pappus, which is relatively long.