Typically, I stay away from Milk Thistles. My encounters usually occur in the summer or the fall as I am exploring some hillside near oak trees. By that time of the year the thistle plants have dried to a brown crisp, tall sentinels of sharp thorns/thistles ready to stab my arm or leg. I am certain if given the opportunity one of the thistles would figure out a way to stick itself through the soles of my shoes.
On the other hand, in the spring, these milk thistle put up these beautiful magenta flowers which are a magnet for bees and ladybugs. Those pointy things below the flower? They are modified leaves that are sharp and will draw blood if you are not careful. Not only is the flower a lovely sight to see, but the young leaves are green and have pattern-like white veins throughout. A photograph and post of the leaves on the next excursion to the lake side.
Plant Notes: Milk Thistles (Silybum marianum) despite their thorny nature are edible and known for their medicinal benefits. The roots, stems, leaves, and flower buds can be eaten. The roasted seeds can be used as a coffee substitute. Medicinally, milk thistle is used in the treatment of liver diseases as well as counteracting mushroom poisoning.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, spot metering mode, ISO100, 35mm (prime lens), f/2, 1/80 sec
El Dorado Hills (CA), Milk Thistle, Magenta Flower, Shallow DOF. Browns Ravine, Folsom Lake, El Dorado Hills, CA. March 26, 2017. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.