The globe thistles are lovers of hot sun and poor soil. Making tall statuesque plants, clothed in shiny leathery leaves, with grey or white undersides, deeply cut with sharp spiny tips. Round, drum-stick heads of hard blue, or sometimes white flowerheads, are composed of many small, individual, flowers. Around 120 species from Europe to Asia, with a few in Africa. Echinos, meaning hedgehog, referring to the spiky flower clusters.