It is a stretch to call a thistle beautiful: rather, it is handsome. It has character beneath the prickle. The seed is encased in the involucre from the top of which sprouts the mauve flower petals. Once the involucre shrivels, it splits to release the most delicate of thistledown: the seed with its own propelling system that ensures that is spreads on the slightest of zephyrs to an nearby rocky patch to continue the genus.
A thistle growing on the slopes above St Andre-de-Roquepertuis in the Langedoc, France in October this year.
A thistle growing beside the ploughed field, Freeman's Waterhole in New South Wales, Australia in December this year.