Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn. Asteraceae
This annual or biennial plant grows in the Mediterranean areas, such as southern Europe, North Africa, and Asia. The plant height in Japan is 1 to 2 meters, and the purple flower of approximately 5 cm in diameter blooms in May to June. Young shoots of this species are added to salads. In addition, the roasted fruit is used as a substitute for coffee.
Part used: fruit
Medicinal use: cholagogue, digestive, and cardiotonic
Main component: silymarin
The fruit of this species was used for a long time in Europe as a folk medicine for liver disorders.
The English name "milk thistle" refers to milk of the Virgin Mary that allegedly fell on the leaf of the thistle.
The leaf of the artichoke (Cynara scolymus Linn.) is closely related to the milk thistle and its leaf contains cynarine, which has choleretic activity.