There are a lot of different kinds of thistle plants. I started out looking at thistles that goldfinches eat and became interested in the milk thistle.
I read that milk thistle is in the Mediterranean region of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
This is a great map of this region based on a NASA map, modified by Eric Gaba, Wikimedia Commons.
A map of the UK with Scotland shown in dark green by, User: Ningyou, Wikimedia Commons.
I learned that thistle is the national symbol of Scotland.
The legend is that a Norse army was trying to sneak up on a Scottish army at night. The Norse army walked barefoot in order to have a silent approach. Unfortunately for them, the ground had a lot of thistles and they stepped on them. So much for the silent approach.
The thistle has been the symbol of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III from 1249 to 1286.
Thistle is also the symbol of the Encyclopedia Britannica which was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Thistle, royal badge of Scotland by, Sodacan, Wikimedia Commons.
A milk thistle in bloom by, Jan Mehlich, WC.
Milk thistle has nasty prickers and if you step on one like the Norse army did, or grab one with your hand, you will regret it.
Milk thistle are also very sneaky, They can grow in a lot of places. They grow amongst other plants and sometimes blend in.
By, AmbitAmbalist, WC.
The next two pictures are of milk thistles in bloom.
By, lorsh, English Wikipedia.
By, H. Zell, WC.
Milk thistle looks different during the summer.
Before it blooms by, Philmarin, WC.
The next two pictures show the milk thistle at the seed stage. The wind picks up the fluff with the seed attached and carries it to a new location. A new thistle plant grows from the seed.
By, Pere Lopez, WC. I’m missing an accent over the e in Lopez.
Goldfinches love these seeds. An European Goldfinch by, User:MPF WC.
After the seeds are gone by, H. Zell, WC.
The last picture is of a milk thistle plant at the end of summer by, Golf Brava, Wikimedia Commons.