Silybum marianum Open-pollinated. Named for the bold white splashes on its glossy leaves, said to be from Mary’s milk. Fast-growing 3–5' annual with leaves up to 8x24". Native to the Mediterranean. Use young leaves cooked or in spring salads; remove spines first! Flower stalk puts out large purple thistle flowers that were eaten like artichokes. Silymarin, found in the flowers and seeds, has been used to strengthen and regenerate liver tissue. Will self-sow; keep gloves handy to pull unwanted volunteers before they get big and prickly. May present a way to outwit raccoons: Chris Mazur of Apple River, IL, planted some around his sweet corn patch, and the coons ravaged the rest of his garden, but did not molest his corn. Likes dry soil, very tolerant of drought. ~40 seeds/g. ②
4630 Milk Thistle - Organic
Log in to start or resume an order
See Herb Chart in the sidebar for uses and cultural information.
About medicinal herbs: Archeological evidence dates the medicinal use of herbs back 60,000 years to the Neanderthals. 85% of the world’s population employ herbs as medicines, and 40% of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. contain plant-derived materials. Fewer than 10% of higher plant species have been investigated for their medicinal components. Interest in traditional herbal remedies continues to grow.
Statements about medicinal use of plants have not been evaluated by the FDA, and should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any ailment. Before using or ingesting any medicinal plant, consult a healthcare practitioner familiar with botanical medicine.
Using herbs: Drying herbs at home is not difficult. Whole leaves retain their flavor at least a year. To substitute fresh herbs for dried in cooking, use triple the dried quantity called for in a recipe.
Culture: Some herbs are customarily grown from divisions because they cannot come true from seed, such as scented thymes and flavored mints. Some require fall sowing of fresh seed, such as sweet cicely and angelica, and these become available in August or September.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.