Thistles Canada and Common

Another flower I came across while walking the Ribble’s banks was the thistle. Two species there grow, the Canada Thistle (below) and the Common or Bull Thistle (above). Most of us have brushed past one of these beasties at some point, discovering how effective their spines and prickles are at thrusting through fabric and flesh.

The Royal Horticultural Society’s website lists the Bull Thistle and, like all its inclusions, nonchalantly describes the following details on ‘How to care’ for the plant:


None required





But for those horrid spikes, deep roots and seeming indestructability, it would make the perfect garden plant! Would that my Sweet Peas were so resilient. In fact, thistles were part of God’s judgement on our race. Of the bountiful land we were given, Genesis 3:18 tells us ‘Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field’. Adam’s agriculture would henceforth compete with this nasty plant and its descendants. Whether God specially created them to jab at Adam’s sinful legs, or whether he made an existing, beautiful flower prickly, I do not know. I suspect the latter; the plant which annoys and persecutes the gardener is still beloved by butterflies and bees, its seed adored by the goldfinch. The flowers’ colour is especially beautiful, the Canada with its lilac and the Bull with its deeper, bold purple.

One website claims thistle flowers and stems can be eaten for food, though it wisely advises removing the spines beforehand. What prospect of starvation first drove folk to this discovery, I cannot say, but I imagine the taste is less pleasant than that of our regular vegetables. The Lord Jesus observed that men may not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles, comparing them to false prophets. Such men are often attractive at a distance, even offering a nourishment of sorts. Handle them, though, and you’ll be cut up and prickled. Suffer them in your garden, and they’ll run amok, their deep roots spawning ever new progeny.


Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1