An Imposing Imposter - Onopordum (The Scots' Thistle)

Each year we see the magnificent stems of Onopordum Acanthium rise from the silver over-wintering rosette.
We carefully position the young plants each year so that they are near to the driveway where people walk up to the nursery. Many photographs have been taken of visitors standing beside a 2 metre high "Scots' Thistle".

But is it an impostor? If so, it is a very handsome one.

The silver cottony leaves are fiercely toothed and grow quickly into flat silver rosette in the first summer. It stays that way over the winter and in spring it begins to build.  In June the silver stem rises, the mace like buds opening to a glorious purple thistle head.

It is also called Cotton Thistle and comes from Southern Europe & Asia, but believe me it looks magnificent growing in Scotland, and has long been naturalised and taken on the local accent.

Choose a sunny well drained spot and plant any time from April to August.

One for adventurous gardeners yes, but for beginners too, easy and satisfying.

It is our August 'Plant of the Month' at the nursery and available through our online catalogue.


  1. The blooms are unique looking and the plants look a bit like wildflowers.

  2. That certainly makes a statement ! Visited you in June with Aigas, loved the time spent in your garden.


Thank you for leaving a comment - it is always great to hear about other peoples gardens and lives. If you ever drop by the nursery, make sure you say hello. (Margaret & Donald)

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