Skip to Content
Weed control, management, ecology, and minutia
by Rick Nelson
on April 17, 2014 at 4:42 PM
Thanks for posting this - good info - I recall reading years ago that milk thistle (I think) is edible and some friends and I were trying to figure out which is which during this glorious spring. Surprising how hard it is to find out!
by John Dague
on June 10, 2014 at 3:40 PM
Rick, you don't want to find any milk thistle, it is a horrible plant that can grow 10 feet tall. It can choke out every other living plant and can repel most animals. The leaves and flowers have tiny sharp thorns that stick deep under your skin then break off at the slightest touch, like thousands of tiny needles.  
If anyone would like to harvest a huge crop of them, I can show you where they grow abundantly in Milam County Texas.
by Pam McReynolds
on March 1, 2016 at 4:27 PM
I disagree with John. We have milk thistle on our property and if you hoe it, the horses will eat it once it wilts. They also love to eat the dried heads (go figure as they are quite prickly) that are filled with seeds. Doves love the seeds as well. I think the Italian thistle is much worse and more invasive. It's not easy to hoe like the milk thistle and spreads everywhere. The horses eventually eat it when there is nothing else but it is very hard to control because it's much smaller than the milk thistle.
by Cheryl Miller
on March 25, 2017 at 9:10 AM
Can the leaf of a milk thistle grow when left after removing the plant from my lawn? I heard this somewhere years ago.
by Guy B Kyser
on March 27, 2017 at 8:40 AM
I just received this question: "Can the leaf of a milk thistle grow when left after removing the plant from my lawn? I heard this somewhere years ago."  
As far as I know, the answer is No... the leaves can't form new roots once they're cut from the plant. However, if you cut off a milk thistle at the base, leaving the root in the ground, the root can sometimes develop a new shoot.
by Margaret Martinson
on March 31, 2017 at 2:54 PM
Aside from the sharp stickers all over leaf, stem and flowers which make the milk thistle unpalatable, are the milk or italian thistle plants poisonous to livestock because of their high nitrogen content?  
Is it safe for goats or lambs to eat the leaves after they've wilted post glcosphate application?
by Kenneth Vanepps
on July 12, 2017 at 5:26 PM
My neighbor is growing thistles that don't have spine's can you eat them as well
by Guy B Kyser
on July 14, 2017 at 2:54 PM
Margaret, this website has a list of weeds causing nitrate problems... not a single thistle on the list.  
As to glyphosate & grazing, there aren't any grazing restrictions following use of glyphosate... however, if the critters are going to eat a lot of the foliage, my preference would be to wait until after rain or irrigation so they don't ingest too much of the soapy surfactant.  
Sorry for the slow response - busy season -
by Guy B Kyser
on July 14, 2017 at 3:00 PM
Hi Kenneth,  
I'm going to suggest you show this plant to a farm advisor. Since I don't know for sure what the plant is, I would use caution.
by Patricia Talbert
on June 3, 2019 at 3:50 AM
Milk thistle is a lovely, garden worthy medicinal thistle. I grow it as a companion to vegetables as an attractant to beneficial insects and butterflies. Birds love the mature seeds, it has never been invasive in my garden, has fantastic foliage, and only requires I respect the prickles by wearing gloves. Great for liver cell regeneration. A much maligned plant, and fail to see why.
by Patricia L Dengler
on June 5, 2019 at 9:33 PM
What kind of thistle is this? Mt. Laguna meadow.  
Sorry. Is there any way to share an image? Low growing. Thistle with no stem.
by Kathlene Grant
on July 31, 2019 at 2:14 PM
I'm trying to find out the biological name for the kind of non-invasive, non-noxious, non-stickery thistle plants offered for sale at the Oregon Scottish Highland Games and Festivals. I'd like to grow some.
by Sonnet
on August 19, 2019 at 6:45 PM
Can someone help me because I stepped on one of these barefoot and it’s super painful. The thorn is embedded in my heal really deal and my heal is really thick. It’s sending pains through my foot when I walk.
by Guy B Kyser
on August 19, 2019 at 8:18 PM
Kathleen, I’d like to know about those friendly thistles also. Of course a REAL Scotch thistle is so named because it’s so spiny that it helped repel a Viking invasion of Scotland in the Middle Ages...
by Guy B Kyser
on August 19, 2019 at 8:32 PM
On my other device I’m seeing a comment from someone named Sonnet (not showing up here) who has a thistle spine stuck in their foot. That sucks and I’m sorry to hear it. Usually when I get a thistle bite I wait for it to swell up a little bit then squeeze it out like a splinter. Apologies for the graphic info. On the foot, that might not be practical because every step you take can drive it in deeper. If at all possible I’d check with a doctor.
by Violet Mac Donald
on October 21, 2019 at 12:38 PM
Part of our yard was overgrown with them, I was cutting them down with a weed eater. While changing the wires I accidentally touched my face. Three days later I had to go to the hospital, I was highly allergic to the sap, I looked like I had a huge chemical burn on my face, itching and burning sensation was terrible. I am real careful now when I have to cut those things down.
by Aryemo Betty Sabastian
on December 14, 2019 at 11:14 AM
So interesting, I have learned a lot related to my course of pharmacy.
by Anne
on March 11, 2020 at 12:06 PM
On any lacerative wound, bite or rash I'd use plantain (chewed and applied asap), then pack with bentonite until healed.
by Argenia
on April 25, 2021 at 8:50 AM
How to process bull milk thistle? And can it be made into a tea ?
Leave a Reply:

You are currently not signed in. If you have an account, then sign in now!
Anonymous users messages may be delayed.

Security Code: