Marsh Thistle - Cirsium palustre, marsh - Western Isles Wildflowers

Marsh Thistles - Western Isles Wildflowers

Marsh Thistle Pink - Purple Wildflowers
The marsh thistle - one of the three thistles to be seen on The Western Isles. (Spear, creeping and marsh thistles).

First thistle to Flower In the Summers
The marsh thistle is the first thistle to flower in the summer. It is a vivid deep purple in colour, and like the spear thistle is a much more prickly than the creeping thistle.

The second part of the Latin name "Palustre" means bog or marsh

Purplish FlowerHeads Cluster
The purplish, flower heads cluster at ends of stems and branches. The flowers begin life as green spiny ovals and deep purple florets emerge out of the top, making the appearance of rather like a shaving brush! The leaves are glossy, deeply cut and often flushed with purple

Marsh Thistles More Prickles

The marsh thistles seem to be more prickles than flowers and like their name would suggest, these thistles like damp grand, often to be found in the damp grassland near to the sea, or any marshy land.

Flowers of The Marsh Thistle
It is a much deeper colour than the pinky lilac spear thistles and the pinky flowers of the creeping thistles.

The flowers of the Marsh thistle are a vivid deep purple in colour and the flowers are about half the size of the spear thistle flowers. The florets or petals are longer than those of the creeping thistle.

The Marsh thistle is native to the Western Isles. The flowers can be seen July to September.

Tallest Thistles
The marsh thistle is one of the tallest thistles, reaching up to 150cms in height. It is a tall erect plant, often with a single main stem, the stem is winged and very spiny.

Leaves of the Marsh Thistle
The leaves of the Marsh thistle are long, narrow and spiny.

Self Pollinates - also Insects Pollinate - Butterflies & Birds like it
This plant , although it can self pollinate, is also pollinated by many insects, particularly the bees, so it is good for honey production. It is an excellent late-flowering nectar source for butterflies and its seed is taken by goldfinches and linnets, among other birds

The younger stems and seed stalks may be eaten raw, often used to be used in salads

The Thistle - History - The Order of The Thistle

The Scotch thistle has a rich history and folklore. It was in 1470 that King James III ordered that the image of this plant's flower be placed on silver coins.

Order of the Thistle
In 1540, King James V established the Order of the Thistle. King James and his 12 knights each wore a badge depicting a star, a thistle and the words "no one harms me without punishment."

Click pictures below for larger photographs


Scotland's National Emblem - History - Legends
The thistle seen throughout Scotland and the Western Isles has been Scotland's national emblem for hundreds of years.

tories & Legends re the Marsh Thistle
There are quite a few stories and legends that tell how the thistle became Scotland's symbol.

Most of these stories or legends are set around the reign of Alexander III and in particular the events surrounding the Battle of Largs in 1263.

Pink  Wildflowers - Marsh Thistle
Marsh Thistle

It was so that many years ago Scotland was part of the Kingdom of Norway. Norway for many years had no interest in Scotland up to 1263 when King Alexander III proposed to buy back the Western Isles and Kintyre from the Norse King Haakon IV.

Late in the summer of 1263 King Haakon of Norway, was intent on conquering the Scots, and set off with a large fleet of long ships for the Scottish coast. Gales and fierce storms forced some of the ships onto the beach at Largs in Ayrshire, and a Norwegian force was landed.

Legend has it that at some point during the invasion the Norsemen tried to surprise the sleeping Scottish Clansmen. In order to move more stealthily under the cover of darkness the Norsemen took off their shoes, but as they crept barefoot they came across an area of ground covered in thistles and one of Haakon's men unfortunately stood on one and shrieked out in pain, thus alerting the Clansmen to the advancing Norsemen.

His shout warned the Scots who defeated the Norsemen at the Battle of Largs, thus saving Scotland from invasion. The important role that the thistle had played was recognised and so was chosen as Scotland's national emblem

Marsh Thistles at Garry - Isle of Lewis
©2014 Virtual Hebrides
Website Design and Hosting by Western Isles Web Services Ltd, Isle of Lewis Western Isles - Outer Hebrides
This image can be purchased for £5.
If 3 or more images are purchased the price will be reduced to £4 per image. Eg. 3 images would cost only £12, a saving of £3. We place no restriction on the use of images purchased, they can be used on websites or printed media without further cost.

Once you have purchased your image(s) you will be sent an email with a link to where you can download the image(s). Your image(s) will be available for download for up 3 month after the date of purchase


   Image Size:

  Pixels Inches Centimetres
  Inches and cm sizes are approximate