Spiny sow thistle

S​piny sow thistle. Sonchus asper. I’m feeling drawn to this misunderstood plant. Spines curl like claws upward holding raindrops long after the clouds have gone. In this way, the young rosettes twinkled in the evening sunlight. The stunning display caught my attention. Part of me regrets that I didn’t capture a photo. But part of me felt that the intimate moment was meant for my eyes alone. They look like starfish in my garden. They remind me of how “spiny” I become in the winter when it’s damp and cold — when the garden seems barren but is not.

I like to believe that the plants call to me when I am in need of some aspect of their medicine. Sow thistle has an affinity for the liver, digestive tract, and nervous system (to name a few). It grows among other bitter and mineral rich weeds during the winter months seeming not to mind frigid temps. The big swings we experience in Texas when the temps drop 20 degrees in a matter of hours do not bother sow thistle. Maybe this is what it offers me — support which will nourish body systems that often react poorly under the stress of an unpredictable winter.

I will dry this small harvest for use as tea or in a bitter formula. Sow thistle is generally an “undesired” visitor of lawns and gardens. And yet, prolific. And yet, nourishing. They do not concern themselves with being desirous, they just do what they do. There is a lesson in that. Desire is a fickle thing often imposed by forces outside of the body. Maybe this is also the medicine of sow thistle. Confidence. Knowing. Maybe this too, is the medicine that I need. Perhaps that we all need.

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