Image: Scotch thistle, Onopordum acanthium via wikimedia.org, © Net-breuer CC BY-SA 3.0.
I have a paper cut-out Nativity scene that comes out every year around Christmas (it’s a childhood tradition that’s stuck with me despite my lack of religious conviction to give it meaning). There’s a donkey near the manger, of course, and seeing it reminded me I’ve been meaning to mention the wonderful (?) etyomology of the Scotch thistle’s Latin name. Scotch thistle is native to Europe and western Asia, although it’s become invasive in many dryish places around the world. And it has a Latin name with a certain je-ne-sais-quoi.
Quite a while back, I wrote about the black-billed thrush, saddled with the quite unfortunate name Turdus ignobilis. It doesn’t quite mean “the ignoble turd”, but my inner 9-year-old would like it if it did. But Scotch thistle – ah, my inner 9-year-old can go to town. Continue reading