The spear thistle is a solid, statuesque plant armoured with spines on every leaf and bract…

 

thistledown

 

but as the flowers fade spiked seed heads burst into extraordinary softness.

 

 

On a still day thistledown floats down among the spiny stems…

 

 

drifting into weightless clouds, ready to take flight when the wind blows.

(Click twice for a closer view)