thistle

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thistle

thistle, popular name for many spiny and usually weedy plants, but especially applied to members of the family Asteraceae (aster family) that have spiny leaves and often showy heads of purple, rose, white, or yellow flowers followed by thistledown seeds (a favorite food of the goldfinch). The Scotch thistle (variously identified, but most often as Onopordum acanthium, now cultivated as an ornamental) is the badge of the Scottish Order of the Thistle and the national emblem of Scotland. The blessed thistle, or St.-Benedict's-thistle (Cnicus benedictus, the Carduus benedictus of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing, iii:4) was at one time a heal-all and is still sometimes used medicinally. The common, or bull, thistle (Cirsium lanceolatum) and the pasture thistle (Cirsium odoratum) are attractive weeds not to be confused with the so-called Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), naturalized from Europe. A few thistles are cultivated in gardens, e.g., the large-flowered globe thistles, species of the Old World genus Echinops. The Russian thistle is a tumbleweed. Thistle is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.
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thistle

thistle

Spiky, prickly leaves with pink or violet flower burs. Though the entire plant has liver protecting properties, the seeds have the strongest effects on the liver. Milk thistle seed contains silymarin, a compound shown to protect the liver, and to accelerate the regeneration of liver cells. As an antioxidant milk thistle can help reduce oxidative damage to the liver. Used as a liver protectant and healer, to treat spleen problems, to protect the kidneys, as an antioxidant, and to protect the system from heavy metal damage. Milk Thistle blocks toxins entering the liver and cleanses toxicity out of the liver cells, a good (temporary) process during any cleanse and detoxification process. Milk thistle raises levels of SOD, interferon, and T-lymphocytes. Leaf tea used for skin problems, rash and tuberculosis. Root tea used for bowel issues like worms and diarrhea. You can make a lemonade from thistles. Juice or blend, strain out prickles or pulp, add lemon and optional honey. As for pure food, the root is the easiest survival food. Bull thistle for example has a pretty hefty root. Can be eaten raw or cooked. Young plants are best. Unopened flower buds, raw or cooked.
Edible Plant Guide © 2012 Markus Rothkranz
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Thistle

 

the name of many thorny plants of the family Compositae, mainly of the genus Onopordum. There are more than 40 species, distributed in Eurasia and North Africa, chiefly in Mediterranean countries. Of the approximately ten species found in the USSR, the most common is the Scotch thistle (O. acanthium), a biennial weed with a prickly, dentate, and winged stem and large thorny leaves. The plant’s lilac-pink flowers are gathered into large solitary heads. The fruits have pappi. The Scotch thistle is found in the European USSR, the Caucasus, Siberia, and Middle Asia.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

thistle

[′this·əl]
(botany)
Any of the various prickly plants comprising the family Compositae.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

thistle

of Scotland. [Flower Symbolism: Halberts, 38]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

thistle

any of numerous plants of the genera Cirsium, Carduus, and related genera, having prickly-edged leaves, pink, purple, yellow, or white dense flower heads, and feathery hairs on the seeds: family Asteraceae (composites)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Habits: Canada thistles seldom bear seed in cultivated fields but in clover or grass fields, in pastures, groves or fence rows where they may develop undisturbed for a time, seed is often produced abundantly.
Salting the plant: Cut off the Canada thistle while in bloom just beneath the surface of the earth and apply a large handful of salt, or better yet, a half pint of stiff salt brine where the thistle is cut off.
They are quackgrass, Canada thistle, burdock, white or oxeye daisy, snapdragon or butter and eggs, cocklebur, perennial sow thistle, sour dock, yellow dock, wild mustard, wild parsnip, and Russian thistle.
Like quackgrass the Canada thistle is a perennial plant.
The Canada thistle does not have rootstocks like the quackgrass, but has true roots, the parts of which are capable of producing plants.

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