Silybum marianum (Cardus marianum). Compositae
Found on waste lands and in pastures. Likes rich organic soil. Leaves are grey with veins of silver-white, large, with prickly edges. Flowers are large , thistle-form purple, and the involucres prickly and barbed. (Another species of milky-veined thistle grows in the Holy Land, also called after the Virgin Mary). The name –Marianum- is sometimes explained thus; a drop of milk from the breast of the Virgin Mary is said to have fallen on the thistle as she was cutting thistle fodder to feed her donkey. The thistle then became medicinal and edible. The word Carduus shows that the species was once used for carding wool. The word comes from the Gaelic word for carding wool. On good ground it can reach man-height. All parts of the plants are useful, but especially the seeds.
As a medicinal salad, blood cleansing, jaundice remedy. Treatment of anemia, rickets, scurvy. The young shoots, called in Arabic khurfesh, are gathered and eaten by the Bedouin shepherds and other Arabs. It is a refreshing salad food. The green fleshy stems are the best part. The seeds to cure fits, epilepsy, once used against rabies.
A wound herb. Treats petsas-those big , deep sores found in eastern Mediterranean countries. Dose: The hearts of several plants eaten daily as a salad herb. Collect before the thistle becomes tough and spiky; trim off any soft prickles. Eat a teaspoon of seeds, morning and night, in treatment of those ailments for which they are intended.
Young, large leaves are trimmed of their prickles with scissors, gently crushed, then bound over wounds and sores. They will turn black later from the heat and foul matter drawn out.