Milk Thistle is a genus of large, architectural annuals and biennials, with spiny, white-veined leaves and purple thistle flower heads, surrounded by spiky bracts. Extracts are widely used in herbal medicine.
There are just two species, which grow on roadsides and field edges across southern Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as in western North Africa. They have also naturalised in many other parts of the world and are now considered to be an invasive weed in New Zealand.
They do best in full sun and prefer well-drained soil. They are ideal for gravel gardens and naturalistic planting.
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