Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Thistle’s Experiences

The Thistle's ExperiencesThe Thistle’s Experiences

There was once a proud thistle plant. It stood alongside the road. A donkey pulling a cart would often pass it and desire to eat it, but the donkey could never quite reach it. The thistle grew and grew, taller than any thistle might have been allowed to become were it elsewhere.

A young Scottish lady happened to come to the area. She walked out one day with a young man, a potential suitor, and asked him to fetch her one of the thistle flowers. The flowers were quite pretty and back home in Scotland, the thistles were used as decoration on various crests.

The suitor did get the thistle flower, although he pricked himself on the thistle’s pointy bits. He was happy to do so though because he loved the Scottish lass. As time went by it was made known that the two would be married.

The thistle thought he would be dug up and placed in a pot for the honor, but he was not. Time went by. The thistle told its flowers that they had come at just the right time because the thistle plant was going into a pot. Time went on again and the thistle still remained where it was. The young couple was married and they came back by the thistle plant, only to pluck its last flower. They decided it should be painted for their household in all remembrance of how they had met.

The thistle would have a place of honor, but in a story not in a pot.


The thistle is indeed the plant of Scotland. It’s on all manner of crests there. It’s been on coins. It’s been in poems. It has been in legend. According to legend, vikings were going to invade Scotland. They must do so quietly in order not to wake the Scottish warriors. They came ashore and knew they must go bare foot in order to not be detected, this was their downfall. They trod upon the thistles, with their sharp spines, and cried out in pain. The Scottish warriors knew they were there and leapt into battle. The vikings were defeated and Scotland remained safe. The thistle was then named the flower of Scotland. The thistle is actually one of the oldest national flowers.


A thistle is considered a weed, but it actually has many uses in natural medicine, despite this fact, we don’t readily like thistles and will exterminate them if they show up in our yards. This is all within good reason because stepping on a thistle barefoot really hurts. I know, they used to grow in my yard growing up and it’s not fun. Thistles are a nuisance on many accounts. With all this said, they’re not a nuisance to everyone, as I alluded to earlier speaking of their medical nature. They are used in medicine, but we also learned they are used in Scottish symbology. Scotland values the thistle, despite its weed status and herbalists value the thistle despite its weed status. Just because something is unwanted by some doesn’t mean it’s unwanted by everyone.

In addition, this thistle thought it would be elevated to a higher status in life just because one or two higher acts happened to it. Let me tell you something– it takes a lot of higher acts for something to be elevated in the eyes of the people. You can’t just kiss one baby; you have to kiss a lot of babies. Your status can only change with repeated indicators of a different direction. If you are a mass murderer, one or two acts of goodness are not going to change how people talk about you.

While this thistle wasn’t necessarily bad, it was frowned upon and in order for it not to be frowned upon, lots and lots of good would have had to have come of the thistle plant. People have been using it for medicine for a long time and we still call it a weed. Nobody plants it in their garden willingly.


I have a newfound appreciation for the thistle, but still would not like to have it in my yard.

Weigh In

Do you have a new view of the thistle plant?

Would you let one grow in your yard?


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