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Are all thistles edible?  RSS feed

 
Elissa Teal
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Location: Detroit, Michigan
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Are all thistles edible? Or rather, are any thistles poisonous? TIA.
 
D. Logan
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All thistles belong to the same family as sunflowers, which has no poisonous plants. At the very least, this means no thistle is poisonous. Edible is another matter of course, since being able to eat something doesn't mean we gain food value from it worthy of the effort. Still, thistle is indeed also edible in all the many forms. Purple thistle, sow thistle, etc. Make sure to pick the young and tender portions of course. Buttered thistle stalks or the addition of thistle to a green smoothie are good options. If you find one with large enough unopened flower buds, maybe try to get the choke out and use it like an artichoke. Fair warning that most thistles have a slightly bitter or sour flavor to them, though it isn't too strong for most people to enjoy as far as I know. Also, always try a little at first to gauge your own body reaction to the stuff.
 
Elissa Teal
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D. Logan wrote:All thistles belong to the same family as sunflowers, which has no poisonous plants. At the very least, this means no thistle is poisonous. Edible is another matter of course, since being able to eat something doesn't mean we gain food value from it worthy of the effort. Still, thistle is indeed also edible in all the many forms. Purple thistle, sow thistle, etc. Make sure to pick the young and tender portions of course. Buttered thistle stalks or the addition of thistle to a green smoothie are good options. If you find one with large enough unopened flower buds, maybe try to get the choke out and use it like an artichoke. Fair warning that most thistles have a slightly bitter or sour flavor to them, though it isn't too strong for most people to enjoy as far as I know. Also, always try a little at first to gauge your own body reaction to the stuff.


Thanks for the comment.

I ate the stem of 2 very young thistle plants. Crunched like celery; I guess the taste, to me, was reminiscent of celery, too.
 
D. Logan
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Cardoons are in the same family and get used for their stems. The flavor of any given one is going to probably differ by species, growing conditions and genetics.
 
Eva Taylor
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Funny, just had a conversation with an herbalist friend about the cow thistle overtaking my garden bed- I ended up harvesting all of the roots and made a tincture adding in some burdock and dandelion roots for a liver tonic... I've read Milk thistle is great for liver support and all thistle has some kind of tonic effect on the liver . My friend added that she never has a problem with invasives like thistle cause she's always eating them before they can take over.... The roots didn't seem bitter so I'm thinking those could be cooked up like burdock as a root veggie as well...
 
Kevin Feinstein
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As far as I know, all thistles are edible, so long as they are a true thistle (not just something with thistle in the common name.) However, all members of the sunflower family are NOT edible, including the toxic Senecio glabellus.

 
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