When I was writing about the coneflowers and the origin of their botanical name Echinacea, I thought of another flower in my garden - Echinops ritro. Both owe their genus names to the Greek word for hedgehog - echinos. In the case of Echinops, there's more. Opsis means "spines around the flower."
I grew Echinops ritro last year and when spring came around this year, the thought went through my head that it was a good thing I had a plant marker stuck in the ground identifying the location of this, otherwise I would have pulled it out. Its common name is Globe Thistle and its foliage looks very much like its infamous cousin (Family : Asteraceae).
It likes full sun and well-draining soil. Mine is in amended clay and does very well, despite getting more moisture than most of the garden. Its steely blue balls are about two inches in diameter and if you let them go to seed, they'll germinate easily. This is one of those plants that will also grow from just a section of its root. Mine grows to a height of about two feet.
So is Globe Thistle a weed or a flower? It depends. There are no hard and fast rules for this, and if you want it in your garden as a flower, no one is going to stop you. While I detest regular thistles, I love this one. Even the foliage, and the flower is fascinating and beautiful. To me. You can decide for yourself.