Milk thistle

Silybum marianum

A tall, fast growing annual thistle with white speckled spikey leaves and purple headed flowers, it is a medicinal herb used to support the liver. 9x9cm pot (8cm depth)

9x9cm pot (8cm depth)

Sale price£3.10
Currently unavailable


  • Attractive herb
  • Good for a wildflower garden
  • Loved by bees and insects
  • Fast growing

Milk thistle helps rejuvenate the liver and supports it by protecting it from damaging substances and is often prescribed by herbalists for livers suffering alcohol damage, hepatitis and cirrhosis. All parts of the plant are edible, but the leaves are truly spikey and need careful handling. The seed is the most beneficial part of the herb and can be harvested ground and eaten.

Plant Care

  • Height: 100-150cm
  • Type: Hardy
  • Aspect: Sun
  • Soil: Any/alkaline
  • Flower colour: Purple
  • Flowering period: July - August

This fast growing hardy annual loves a well-drained rich soil and plenty of sun. It grows tall so needs plenty of space, but can be grown in a container though it will be a lot smaller. A word of warning, this is a very prickly customer so don't grow it close to areas where there is people movement (unless you want to keep them out!). The seed heads will break apart in autumn and the seeds float away on their individual parachutes, so collect them before this if you want some to re-sow the following year.


Traditionally crushed seeds are infused to make a cooling bitter tasting tea that increases breast milk in nursing mothers.
It is commonly taken to treat the liver and gallbladder or over indulgence.
The seeds are harvested when the petals turn brown, by cutting the individual flowers from the stems; it is advisable to wear protective gloves when doing this. The flower heads should then be put in a paper bag and shaken daily. The seeds will collect at the bottom of the bag.



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