Thistle tattoo meaning and symbolism

A tattoo can be a way to express yourself, honor your past or celebrate the future. Many people find meaning in their tattoos, whether it’s about heritage, life-changing events or simply finding beauty in nature.

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The thistle is one of many beautiful flowers that can make for an attractive design when done right. It has a rich history and deep ties with Scotland, which has transformed this flower into a powerful symbol of national pride. Even if you aren’t Scottish, there are plenty of reasons why you might choose to wear this ancient flower on your skin forever.

thistle tattoo description

The thistle is an extremely prickly plant whose spiny green leaves grow out at sharp angles from its root stock. Its pretty purple flower is made up of layered petals that form a cuplike shape.

The leaves and flower are known for their sharp prickles, which allow the thistle to defend itself against animals who might want to eat it. For this reason, the plant has come to symbolize both self-reliance and protection. Its nationalistic symbolism in Scotland makes it an ideal tattoo design for those with Scottish heritage or anyone who loves traditional tattoos.

Thistle tattoos can also mean something completely different depending on their placement and background color. In addition, the many varieties of thistle add to the possibilities.

colors in a thistle tattoo & meanings

There are no right or wrong colors when getting a thistle tattoo. Although green leaves and purple flowers are most common, this design can easily be done in any color you wish. The symbolic meaning behind a thistle will usually depend more on its location than specific colors used. A simple single-colored image is perfect for wrist tattoos while something larger could benefit from added detail or shading techniques to make it look dimensional.

The key to choosing the best color palette is personal preference. However, if you’re having difficulty deciding what colors to get in your new tattoo, here are a few examples of different hues.

  •  Green leaves, purple flowers and spines on one color background is the most traditional thistle tattoo. This timeless design evokes strong Scottish pride and ties to nationalistic symbolism. It’s also perfect for people who want to celebrate their heritage or ground tattoos in nature themes.
  • Purple leaves on an emerald green background is another popular choice that brings out the best features of this plant design.
  • Darker shades are more dramatic but lighter tones can look elegant as well. Although you might think of thistles as being red, it’s actually rarer than deep pink or highlighter-yellow varieties growing wild today.

history of the thistle tattoo

The history of the thistle goes back thousands of years, all the way to Ancient Greece where it was one of several plants considered sacred by goddesses. Among them Hera wore a crown of these flowers while Athena’s chariot had wings decorated with them.

The plant’s prickly leaves also represent hardships that must be endured. This meaning has carried over into Scotland where thistle tattoos have become one of the country’s most popular designs.

Why get a thistle tattoo?

The story behind this classic Scottish design might influence you to get inked with its delicate purple flower. Whether you are inspired by Scottish heritage or simply love pretty flowers, it can make for a striking piece of body art when done right.

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Reminiscent of traditional tattoos, these subtle tattoos blend seamlessly into your skin so you can get inked without making too much of a statement. This allows you to honor your past and celebrate your future as often as you want with no visible repercussions! You’ll find plenty of inspiration in this gallery of thistle tattoos before you decide on the perfect design for you.