Carline Thistle

carline_thistle,carlina_vulgaris

Carlina acaulis-Carline Thistle

Family: Asteraceae or Compositae

Other names: Stemless Carline Thistle, Dwarf Carline Thistle, Silver Thistle

Habitat: Carline Thistle is native to alpine regions of central and southern Europe. The plant prefers chalky soils and dry pastures on high altitudes (up to 2800 m).

Traditionally, Carline Thistle, had been used in treatment of gastrointestinal and digestive disorders, different types of skin conditions, wounds, rashes and toothaches. A decoction of the root prepared with white wine or wine vinegar was used for washing wounds and for skin problems. Its present use is mostly external. The essential oil of Carline Thistle has been shown to have excellent antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Salmonella and Shigella. Topical application of the root is said to remove scars.

Carline_Thistle,Carlina_vulgaris
Derek Harper [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Carline Thistle:

Carline Thistle is a perennial plant. It has a thick rootstock, brown on the outside and light and fissured in the inside. The rootstock has a strong, aromatic odour when dried. The spiny, lanceolate leaves are radially arranged forming a basal rosette, approximately 20 cm in diameter. Flowers are produced in a large, stemless flowerhead with a creamy-white central disc, and silvery-white ray florets around it. Carline Thistle is in flower from August to September.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
Needs full sun. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Cultivation of Carline Thistle:

Succeeds in a sunny position in ordinary garden soil. Prefers an alkaline soil. Prefers a poor soil. Plants are hardy to about -15°c. The presence of this species in a meadow usually indicates a poor sandy soil. This species resents root disturbance, it should be planted into its final position as soon as possible.

Propagation of Carline Thistle:

Seed – surface sow in a cold frame in the spring. The seed usually germinates in 4 – 8 weeks at 15°c. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.

Culinary uses of Carline Thistle:

Edible Parts: Flowers.
Edible Uses: 

Flowering head – cooked. Used as a globe artichoke substitute, though they are considerably smaller and even more fiddly but still as a tasty.

Carlina_vulgaris,carline_thistle_botanicalMedicinal uses of Carline Thistle:

Diaphoretic;  Purgative.

Parts used: Root

Carline Thistle is considered to have anthelmintic, antiseptic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge and tonic properties.  Traditionally, the plant had been used in treatment of gastrointestinal and digestive disorders, different types of skin conditions, wounds, rashes and toothaches. A decoction of the root prepared with white wine or wine vinegar was used for washing wounds and for skin problems. Its present use is mostly external. The essential oil of Carline Thistle has been shown to have excellent antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Salmonella and Shigella. Topical application of the root is said to remove scars.

Other uses of Carline Thistle:

Weather forecasting.

The flower heads expand in dry weather and close in moist weather. The dried flowers will continue to do this for a long time and they thus form a basic hygrometer for use in weather forecasting.

my_carline_thistle_flower_fairy
Esoteric uses of Carline Thistle:

Healing, protection. Use in sachet or amulet to aid in speedy recovery from surgery or illness. Hang in the home to ward off thieves and unwanted visitors.

The Chemistry:

Essential oil, inulin, tannins, palmitic acid, resins, flavonoids

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