Milk thistle characteristics

What is a milk thistle plant?

Characteristics of milk thistle (Silybum marianum)

Common noun: Milk Thistle, Blessed milkthistle, Spotted thistle, Variegated thistle

Scientific noun: Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn.

– Synonyms: Carduus marianus L. = Mariana mariana (L.) Hill

Family: Daisy family – Compositae

Habitat: We find it at the side of the roads and paths, in the dry, barren lands, during April and July.

Botanical description of milk thistle

milk thistle
Milk thistle photo

Very tall biennial herb, until 2 meters high with flowers gathered in big red solitary heads, which can be easily recognized because of its curved bracts,ending in a strong spine.

Big leaves with white spots on its surface. Lobed, spiny edged.

Picking and storing milk thistle

Spring is the best season to make use of this plan, specially because we use it fresh, just after collecting it. For field collecting we recommend reading this guide on how to collect wild plants. We can pick the fruits in Summer.

Composition of milk thistle

What are the active ingredients of milk thistle?

Many hepatoprotective principles are found in milk thistle seeds, mainly flavolignans (silymarin, silibinin or silybin, silicristin, silidianin and isosilibinin).

It is important to mention that these components are poorly soluble in water, for this reason, milk thistle seeds they have to be taken in supplements (tablets, capsules, tinctures,…) and not in infusions.

*See: Milk thistle for the liver

punto rojo More information on milk thistle

This article was endorsed by Julián Masats - Technical agricultural engineer specialized in horticulture and gardening.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

6 April, 2022

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