The Scottish Thistle is also known as the Cotton thistle. Having coarse, sharp leaves and grayish-green, thick stems decked out with spines, this flower’s beauty lies in those beautiful summertime, globe-shaped blooms ranging in colour from rich, dark pink to the most beautiful, saturated lavender colour.
You may have wondered why such a spiny and hurtful plant could become our country’s pride and joy.
Actually, there is no historical evidence of why this came to pass, though the legend is quite romantic and in no way mythical. In fact, the explanation is quite plausible and all legend has its basis in fact, so the most accepted explanation involves a battle taking place more than 500 years ago. Scotsmen in a battle? Makes perfect sense!
Anyway, it seems that during the reign of Alexander III, clear back in the mid 1200s, our Scottish highlands, lowlands and islands became the fixation of King Haakon of Norway. Intent on laying claim to our country and surprising the Scottish warriors encamped on the coast of Largs in Ayrshire, the Norse King ordered his own soldiers to remove their shoes so as to be able to creep up on the sleeping Scots during an attack under cover of darkness, catching them unawares.
What the sneaky, marauding King did not count on was our native flora. Trodding barefoot upon one of these spiny plants, one of the King’s soldiers shouted out in pain, thereby alerting the sleeping Scotsmen to the invasion. Our Scottish ancestors won the day, sending the Viking King and his troops packing.
Regardless, the Scottish thistle was adopted as our National Symbol centuries ago, and a fitting one it is. Having an exceptionally long taproot, the Scottish Thistle is deeply rooted in Scotland, just as we all are. The spines are indicative of our fighting spirit, Scotsmen being a formidable adversary when confronted, ready to defend our country and our very way of life. The blossom is symbolic of the beauty of the Scottish people, our never-ending pride, and our love for our beloved Scotland. It is also the colour of another of our native plants, Scottish Highland Heather; that colour being lovingly represented in our own Scotland Forever tartan, “Scotland Forever” being the battle cry heard round Scotland. It all comes full circle!
So, we urge you to put your thistle on display! And send us photos! We would love to see them!