Prickly Sow Thistles – I’m sure we’ve all come across them as we wander through the randomness of life. A situation that looked like a sweet innocent dandelion until you reach out for it. Then its promise evaporated, leaving you, completely nonplussed, and picking sharp prickly bits out of your fingers.
Did pigs ever really eat them I wonder? I also wonder whether the population has truly lost as much countryside law as we assume. Was every Tom, Dick and Harriett able to recognise and name all the plants that we find on our verges and in our hedgerows? Did every single person carry this encyclopedic knowledge around in their heads? To be honest, I don’t think so. I don’t believe people who lived a thousand years ago were any better naturalists than the people I meet when we’re out on our daily stroll. To some of us it’s just grass and weeds, others see old friends who return every year.
Just as in the case of the wren and the robin – the wren was thought to be a female robin – I’d hazard a guess that this plant came to be called a Sow Thistle merely because it wasn’t a real thistle. It was a false thistle – looking for the reason that makes it a Sow Thistle, I think we must refer to the robin and wren example, above.