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Plant Profile: Purple Milk Thistle (Galactites tomentosa)

galactites-tomentosa-2Purple milk thistle, also called boar thistle, is an annual or biennial and a native of the Mediterranean area where it grows in disturbed soil such as wastelands, pastures, and roadsides. It is a member of the aster family (Asteraceae), and has a flower head is a bit over an inch in diameter and composed of central disc flowers surrounded by ray flowers that are white, pink, or lilac-purple. The bracts surrounding the flowerheads (involucre) are composed of hairy scales with a single terminal thorn. The flower heads appear in spring and continue blooming until mid summer. The stem has short soft hairs, is branched at the top, and carries thistle-like leaves that are pinnately di matted woolly hairs. The leaves are semi-evergreen and form basal rosettes about twelve inches across.

galactites-tomentosa-lvsType: annual or biennial

Bloom: White, pink, or lilac-purple flowerheads from spring to mid-summer.

Size: 3’ H x 1’ W

Light: Full sun; tolerates some shade

Soil: average to lean, medium moist, well-drained; drought tolerant once established

Hardiness: Zones NA

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed