Milk thistle seeds are the premier herbal liver tonic. The majestic plants star as ornamental medicinals, standing 5’ tall with their violet flowers and the white mottled veining of their big spiny leaves. Plant far enough from garden paths to avoid close encounters, and harvest seedheads as the fluffy parachutes begin to open.
Like any thistle, this one can be invasive. Plants are annuals, and re-seed themselves enthusiastically. Even if you are collecting the seed, some will escape, so be aware.
Notes on seed harvest and cleaning:
From midsummer well into fall, new seedheads will be opening and sending their parachuted seeds out on the breeze to find new homes. I make a daily meditation of checking them, walking along the row with clippers and a paper bag – wearing gloves – and clipping any seedheads that are showing parachutes ready to sail.
I leave the paper bags in a dry dark spot in the barn until a few weeks after the final seed harvest, when all the seedheads are crispy dry. Then I spread them out on a sheet and stomp them to open up the seedheads – some gloved breaking up by hand is usually also required. Next I sift everything in the sheet through a screen that lets the seeds through but blocks the big chunky pieces. The final step is to winnow what remains – you can use a box fan or a breeze – and voila! Clean milk thistle seed!
That may sound like a lot of work, but take it from me -- as seed cleaning goes, it’s an easy one. Yields average 2 ounces per plant.
Latin name: Silybum marianum
Approx. 30 seeds per packet
Grown in Potter Valley, Mendocino County, California
Certified Organic by CCOF
Apr 28, 2023
Apr 23, 2023
Jan 8, 2023
Nov 27, 2022
Nov 10, 2022
Exactly as described. :) Will order again.