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Spear Thistle: Any uses?

 
Frank Brentwood
Posts: 81
Location: Long Island, NY (Zone 7)
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I have a dozen or so Spear Thistles about to flower in my yard.

Aside from indicating deficiencies in my soil, are their any uses for Spear Thistle (Cirsium Vulgare)?

A brief search shows that they have very minor food potential and are pretty invasive, but I'm wondering if there are any more permie type things that they might be good for.

Anybody want the seed heads?
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
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Hi Frank,
Useful for you or for other beings?

The flowers attract bees, and they like to suck on the pollen, so if you want bees than they are pretty useful. The taproots are good for the soil ecology. I'm sure somebody in your system likes the thistle there.

I also have thistle and next year I'm planning on harvesting, potentially freezing, and eating the cleaned stems. I tried some this year and it wasn't bad, similar to celery. Not impossible to clean, the fiddle factor is about a 3/5.

The other thing I want to do is find someone who is licensed to process the thistle into medicine and can do it in small batches. It goes for like 10 euros a bottle here. Granted, not a huge market.

100 thistle seeds goes for 2.36 on ebay. That's probably less than one plant.

It would be a good windbreak/barrier species if you wanted to rule out or go light on woody perennials. Mine gets 1.5 meters high and forms a nice bush.

Good luck,
William
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