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Cotton Thistle: flower of Scotland

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Cotton Thistle: flower of Scotland

The cotton thistle (Onopordon acanthium) is probably better known as the Scotch thistle! However, it occurs outside of Scotland and so the books have decided on cotton thistle as a common name. It is far from common here in Dorset but then I guess we are further from Scotland than most of the rest of the United Kingdom.

This is a big plant; it grows to about six feet tall and with its sticking out, spiny branches it can be four to five feet wide. The leaves are exceptionally prickly and covered in white woolly hairs which is, of course, where the name cotton thistle comes from. The familiar thistle shaped flower can be up to three inches in diameter and there can be a lot of them on each plant. As I said, this is a big plant!

Although the bearing the name Scotch thistle this is really a plant of warm Mediterranean regions as it prefers dry summers and fairly barren soils, often with a hint of chalk. It can spread very quickly and become a real problem in the wrong place but here in Dorset that does not seem to be an issue. It is not all bad news though; it has apparently been used to treat cancers and ulcers although I have no idea with what success.


 

 

If you would like to see the complete series that this post is part of click here ---->
This nature note was written by ----> Peter Orchard
This nature nore was written ----> 3 years 2 months ago

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