Thistle (azami)

[ . BACK to Worldkigo . TOP . ]

Thistle (azami)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Plant


Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins, mostly in the family Asteraceae. Prickles often occur all over the plant - on surfaces such as those of the stem and flat parts of leaves. These are an adaptation that protects the plant against herbivorous animals, discouraging them from feeding on the plant. Typically, an involucre with a clasping shape of a cup or urn subtends each of a thistle's flowerheads.

The term thistle is sometimes taken to mean exactly those plants in the tribe Cynareae (synonym: Cardueae), especially the genera Carduus, Cirsium, and Onopordum. However, plants outside this tribe are sometimes called thistles, and if this is done thistles would form a polyphyletic group.

In the language of flowers, the thistle (like the burr) is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment. For this reason the thistle is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a high chivalric order of Scotland.
Another story is that a bare foot Viking attacker stepped on one at night and cried out, so alerting the defenders of a Scottish castle. Whatever the justification, the national flower of Scotland is the thistle. It is found in many Scottish symbols and as the name of several Scottish football clubs. Carnegie Mellon University features the thistle in its crest.

Carduus is the Latin term for a thistle (hence cardoon), and Cardonnacum is the Latin word for a place with thistles.

© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

CLICK for more photos

There are various KIGO with the thistle!


kigo for late spring

azami 薊 (あざみ / アザミ) thistle
This name covers a wide variety of Cirsium plants.

azami no hana 薊の花(あざみのはな)thistle flowers
mayutsukuri, mayu tsukuri 眉つくり(まゆつくり)
"flower making eyebrows"
..... mayuhaki, mayu haki 眉はき(まゆはき)

noazami, no azami 野薊(のあざみ) "wild thistle"
Cirsium japonicum
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

maazami, ma azami 真薊(まあざみ)Cirsium sieboldii
(also called kiseru azami 煙管薊), thistle looking like a Japanese pipe)

hamagoboo, hama goboo 浜牛蒡(はまごぼう)
hamaazami, hama azami ハマアザミ(浜薊)
Cirsium maritimum

The most common is the "wild thistle" (no azami ノアザミ(野薊 Cirsium japonicum).

Noazami grows from 50 to 100 cm, flowers from May to August, sometimes earlier and sometimes even later, thus it is seen as a spring flower. It grows widely in Japan, along rivers and plains in Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu island. It is also common on the Asian continent.


kigo for all summer

natsu azami 夏薊 (なつあざみ) summer thistle

This refers to all the thistles given above.


kigo for mid-autumn

aki azami 秋薊 あきあざみ autumn thistle
yama azami 山薊(やまあざみ)mountain thistle
oo azami 大薊(おおあざみ)big thistle

CLICK for more photos
oni azami 鬼薊(おにあざみ) "demon thistle"
plumed thistle is another translation given for this name.

Cirsium borealinipponense
It grows up to one meter in hight and the thorns on the green leaves are very sharp.
It flowers from July to September, with drooping blossoms. It is widespread in Japan from the Kanto region to Nortern Japan, especially in the mountainous areas along the Sea of Japan.


kigo for early winter

. azami goboo 薊牛蒡(あざみごぼう)
Phytolacca esculenta Van Houtte

pokeroot, pokeweed 山牛蒡 (やまごぼう) yamagoboo

kigo for all winter

CLICK for more photos

kareazami, kare azami 枯薊(かれあざみ)
dried, withered thistle


other names, not kigo

seiyoo oniazami セイヨウオニアザミ(西洋鬼薊)
"Western Oniazami Thistle"

amerika oni azami アメリカオニアザミ(亜米利加鬼薊)
"American Oniazami Thistle"
Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Tenore

jooshuu oniazami ジョウシュウオニアザミ(上州鬼薊)
"Thistle from the Joshu region"
Cirsium okamotoi

nanbu takane azami ナンブタカネアザミ(南部高嶺薊)
"Thistle from the Nambu Takane region"
Cirsium nambuense

Worldwide use


autumn thistles

The stems still upright and strong, but brown and lifeless, and the flower heads drooping downwards.

alone and bowed --
the brown autumn thistle
amidst golden leaves

Isabelle Prondzynski



The cardoon: Cynara Cardunculus
camel thorn, milk thistle, desert thistle, artichoke thistle.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Artichoke thistle is the wild form of the cultivated globe artichoke.

Ardhi / Arthi > earth
schouk > thorn
= earth thorn

eaten by camels, horses, goats and so on, they say it helps to stimulate the milk production.
The bud is more important than the flower!


thorny-headed globe thistle
Echinops spinosissimus

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

a desert wildflower, which blooms in early spring after the winter rains, by the end of Ferbruary. Long skinny stems support round prickly heads on these plants. Despite their thorny heads, insects and bees are not deterred and can be found visiting these flowers; they are food for grazing camels and goats.

up from the wadi
we track the spring ...
thistle blossoms

Heike Gewi

WKD : Yemen Saijiki

Things found on the way

07 tanada and thistle blossoms

Thistles and terraced rice fields
Gabi Greve, Ohaga, Japan


. azami no uchimame jiru あざみの打ち豆汁
soup with thistles and beans

. oyamabokuchi オヤマボクチ ( 雄山火口)
Synurus pungens, a kind of smelly mountain thistle.


05 another thistle
Photo Gabi Greve

hana wa shizu no me ni mo mie-keri oni azami

these flowers can be seen
even with the eyes of lowly folks -
demon thistles

Matsuo Basho
Tr. Gabi Greve

This refers to the thought that demons are not visible to lowly people, an old saying
oni wa shizu no me ni mienai

shizu 賎(しず)身分の低い者 a person of low standing,
meeserly, vulgar, despicable

"Even a lowly person like myself can see the beauty of these thistles."

the blossoms are seen
even by the eyes of the poor;
demon thistle

Tr. David Landis Barnhill

a flower
visible to the eyes of the poor
the plumed thistle ogre

It has been suggested that this verse has a connection to a phrase in the introduction to the imperial anthology of waka, Kokinwakashuu, by Ki no Tsurayuki:
"Only those acts which save people are called by the poor to have been done by an invisible ogre."
The play of words comes with the two meanings for oni ("plumed" or "ogre"), with azami ("thistle," Cirsium japonicum).
Tr. and Comment Jane Reichhold


あざみ あざやかな あさの あめあがり

azayaka na
asa no
ame agari

Taneda Santoka 山頭火

Click on the photo for the translation.


on white canvas
the brush gets used to coffee...
autumn thistles

Heike Gewi
Kigo Hotline, October 2010


AZAMI: Haiku in English
magazine, Ed. Iddoku Santo
Published in Osaka
source : shiki.archive, 1995

Thistle brilliant morning:
Shiki, Hekigodō, Santōka, Hōsai

translations from the Japanese William J. Higginson
Publisher: Paterson, N.J
ISBN: 0891200002

Related words

***** . azami geshi, azamikeshi 薊罌粟(あざみけし)Mexican prickly poppy
Argemone mexicana L. 
gamboge thistle, St.Vincent yellow thistle

***** . Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus)
a perennial thistle originating in southern Europe around the Mediterranean.
aatichooku アーティチョーク

***** . Safflower (benibana 紅花)  


from Heike Gewi

Haiga from Heike Gewi, Yemen


1 comment:

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Oniazami no Seikichi / Oni-Azami Seikichi 鬼あざみ清吉 Oniazami Seikichi
The Bandit Seikichi (Demon Thistle)


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .