Biennial growing to 1.2m/4ft high at a fast rate! Very spiky leaves and pink thistle-like flowers from July – September. Can tolerate most soils but needs full sun. Self-seeds readily.
Roots of the milk thistle can be eaten raw or cooked. When boiled, flavour resembles that of salsify. Leaves and flowers can also be eaten (removing spines first). When young, cooked leaves make a good spinach substitute.
Milk Thistle has long been renowned for its powerful anti-oxidants which protect liver cells from toxins and help regenerate healthy cells. It is an anti-inflammatory. The seeds can be ground and used in food or taken as a tea.