California Botany Lesson: Purple Milk Thistle

The purple Milk Thistle (not to be confused with the common milkweed) comes from southern Europe. It’s now found all over the world. The USDA and many U.S. States classify it as a noxious weed because it displaces native species. However, this particular thistle is the one whose seeds contain 4–6% silymarin, a chemical that prevents and heals liver damage from drinking, disease or diabetes – the THREE D’s.

An Ode to a Comet

Edmund Halley’s Comet last visited in 1986. Its visit was a dud compared to 1910’s famous visit, when the Comet dragged a vast tail across half the night sky! The growth of electric lights on earth’s surface by 1986 didn’t help its visibility either. Still, a curiously fuzzy star appeared in the night sky directly overhead as it approached the inner Solar System, 90 degrees over the ground at around 11pm one night when I observed. It was a beautiful little fuzzball way up in the heavens seen with the naked eye. Though it’s 2014, my expected death shall surely occur sometime between now and 2061, the year of Halley’s next visit, and I shan’t get see this particularly wondrous comet again. Isn’t mortality weird!

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