Cirsium vulgare

Common Names: Bull thistle, spear thistle, common thistle, scotch thistle, scots thistle, scottish thistle
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Aster family

A tall biennial or short-lived monocarpic thistle, forming a rosette of leaves and a taproot up to 70 cm long in the first year, and a flowering stem 1 to 1.5 m tall in the second (rarely third or fourth) year. The stem is winged, with numerous longitudinal spine-tipped wings along its full length. The leaves are stoutly spined, grey-green, deeply lobed; the basal leaves up to 15 to 25 cm long, with smaller leaves on the upper part of the flower stem; the leaf lobes are spear-shaped (from which the English name derives). The inflorescence is 2.5 to 5 cm diameter, pink-purple, with all the florets of similar form (no division into disc and ray florets).

Found in fields, meadows, along forest edges, roadsides, and waste areas.

Primary Flower Color: Pink
Secondary Flower Color: Blue/Purple
Edible Notes: The root is edible when cooked. It can be dried and stored for later use. The root is rich in starches that cannot be digested by humans and can cause digestive upset or gas. Young flower stems can be cooked and used as a vegetable. Young leaves can be soaked overnight in salt water and then cooked and eaten. Prickles need to be removed from the leaves before the leaves can be eaten. The flower buds can be cooked. The seeds may be roasted and eaten. Look for thistle tea in natural food stores.
Warnings: Avoid the sharp spines which can cause injury.