Is a thistle the same as a nettle, and do they both sting?
Both thistles and nettles have been called the devil’s plant or devil’s vegetable because of their thorns, and both are considered prickly weeds, although they’re often used medicinally. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Nettles are commonly of the family Urticaceae, and their tiny hairs release an irritant that gives them the name stinging nettle. Thistles are of the family Asteraceae. One variety, the Scotch thistle, sports purple flowers and prickly leaves and has become the national emblem of Scotland. Legend has it that in the tenth century, the invading Danes gave themselves away by their screams when they tried to steal away barefoot through a dry moat full of thistles. Like nettles, thistles have been prescribed for toothaches, as a restorative tonic, and to impart warmth through their counterirritant action.