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.

Mediterranean_Sea_political_map-en.svgpng Eric Gaba WCThe problem is that I have always seen milk thistle in the US. Either that, or thistle that looks exactly like milk thistle.
Thistle has a history in Scotland.

A map of the UK with Scotland shown in dark green  by, User: Ningyou, Wikimedia Commons.

UK_scotland Ningyou dk green Scotland WCI 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.

500px-Thistle_Royal_Badge_of_Scotland.svg png Sodacan WCI will use WC for the pictures from Wikipedia Commons. I am showing pictures of milk thistle.

A milk thistle in bloom  by, Jan Mehlich, WC.

jan mehlch 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.

AmbitA WC

The next two pictures are of milk thistles in bloom.

By, lorsh, English Wikipedia.

lorsh en wiki

By, H. Zell, WC.

h zell wc thistle bloom tall

Milk thistle looks different during the summer.

Before it blooms  by, Philmarin, WC.

Phimarin 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.

Pere Lopez WCpere lopez seeds

Goldfinches love these seeds. An European Goldfinch  by, User:MPF WC.

MDF WC bird

After the seeds are gone  by, H. Zell, WC.

h zell old thistle

The last picture is of a milk thistle plant at the end of summer  by, Golf Brava, Wikimedia Commons.

thistle summer end Golf Bravo WC