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ID this plant - edible or not? Uses, if any?

Location: East Texas, just north of Beaumont

Date: March 22nd, 2008






The top:


The base:
 

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Cirsium vulgare, Texas style. The classic thistle, second-year growth (I mention them on my site eattheweeds.com -- in the archives -- and have a video about it on You Tube, search with eattheweeds .) Some thistles have just one blossom on top, others have multiple blossoms. The large shaving brush blossom makes this plant nearly impossible to misidentify. The part of this plant worth eating is the stalk, usually before it blossoms, still edible when blossoming but bitter and tough later in the season. Cut the plant off at the base, hold upside down and trim off the leaves. The leaves are edible but the spines are not so they are not worth trimming. Peel the stalk to get rid of the fibrous covering. What is left is edible raw but I think tastes better cooked for a few minutes, sliced and boiled. The base of unopened flowerbuds are also edible but not worth the work and aggravation. And if I remember correctly, the part you peel off can be used to make cordage. The dried top is excellent tinder. First year roots are edible as well. The plant's growth cycle is two years, root and leaves first year, stalk, flowers and leaves the second year. The spines make the leaves very time consuming to deal with because cooking does not soften the spines.
 

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I always found that thistle had a texture and taste similar to celery, but not as sweet. It's not bad, and gets you plenty of fiber. They work well added to soup.
 

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Hunter/Farmer
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Good indicator plant.
When the giant thistle's large seeds are floating in the wind, the dewberries are about ready to pick.:D
 

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Elitist Gun Snob
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We have tons of these here in Southwest Louisiana. They might be a different variety though, as I actually look off the porch I'm on at the moment and see one that has a very distinct purple coloration.
 

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Puple Thistle

I've lived in Florida more than 30 years (gasp) and the purple-top thistle is all I've seen here. Botanist say they can be yellow or purple and they make no species distinction because of the color of the blossom. They do make a distinction between species that have one blossom and species that have several blossoms (all equally edible.) Several writers say thistles like their feet wet but I did not see that in my native state of Maine nor here in Florida. In both places they like spots with good drainage for most of their growing season. I think one writer got that aspect wrong and others copied said.
 
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