Thistles( carduus in botany) are troublesome plants, growing in the United States, known by their prickly leaves, purple flowers and white down. The common thistle, which is the national emblem of the Scotch. has been introduced into this country, and also the Canada thistle, which is a smaller variety and the great pest of the farmers, as its roots are to deep to be plowed out, and every piece of its creeping roots forms a new plant. Yellow thistle, pasture thistle, blessed thistle, cotton thistle and milk thistle, are other varieties. The thistle is thought to have been adopted as the national emblem of Scotland in the time of James III. It is found on coins with the motto, Nemo me impune lacessit (no one touches me with impunity).
The Order of the Thistle or of St. Andrew are a military order of knighthood in Scotland, the rise and institution whereof is variously related by different authors. Lesly bishop of Ross reports that the night before the battle between Athelstan king of Northumberland, and Hungus king of the Picts, a bright cross, in form of that whereon St. Andrew (the tutelar saint of Scotland) suffered martyrdom, appeared to Hungus who have gained the victory, ever after bore the figure of that cross on his banners. Others assert, that Achains King of Scotland, first instituted this order, after made the famous league offensive with Charlemagne king of France. But although the thistle had been acknowledged as the symbol of Scotland from the reign of Achaius, yet some refer to the beginning of this order to Charles VII. of France. Others place the foundation of it as low as the year 1500.
The chief and principle ensign is a gold collar composed of thistles and srigs of rue interlinked with amulets of gold, having pendent thereunto the image of St. Andrew with his cross, and the motto, NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSET. The ordinary or common ensign worn by the knights is a star of four sliver points, and over them a green circle, bordered and lettered with gold, containing the said motto, and in the center is a thistle proper; all which is embroidered on their left breast. and worn with the collar, with a green ribbon over the shoulder, and brought under the right arm; pendent thereto is the image of St. Andrew, with his cross in a purple robe, within an oval of gold enameled vert, with the former motto; but sometimes they wear, encircled in the same manner, a thistle crowned. About the time of the reformation, this order was dropped, till James II. of England resumed it, by creating eight knights; however, the revolution unsettled it again, and it lay neglected till queen Anne, in 1703, restored it to the primitive design, of twelve knights of St. Andrew.
Knights of St. Andrew is also an order instituted by Peter the Great(Great Work) of Muscovy in 1698; the badge of which is a golden medal, on one side whereof is represented St. Andrew's cross, with these words, Cazar Pierre monarque de tout la Russie (Cazar Peter monarch of all Russia). This medal being fastened from the right shoulder. St. Andrew's cross is a form of the letter X also known as the 10.