Yes, there is such a thing as a gentle thistle! Cirsium carolinianum is a case in point. This beauty was photographed in dry upland woods, growing the dappled sunlight beneath oaks and shortleaf pines. This plant, also called soft thistle, has sticky phyllaries (bracts surrounding the inflorescence) and practically no spines. A delight to come upon in the forest!
The Gentle Thistle