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ANY uses for common thistle?  RSS feed

 
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Location: Boise, Idaho
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A neighbor started a 4 x 8 foot hugel mound last spring, but didn't get it planted.  It now boasts 8 foot thistle and hemlock plants!  Most of the stems are at least 2" diameter.  The only use I can think of for the plants is to chainsaw them down, and rot them in water in covered barrels to make a green manure tea concentrate for the trees.  However, would rotted poison hemlock not be a good idea to use around fruit trees?

Any other thoughts?  I read that the roots and young flowers are edible, but the spines on the leaves on these monsters are about an inch long!
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Monster Thistle and Hemlock patch
 
pollinator
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the core of the stalk is edible & can be quite delicious
 
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Thistle tea is pretty tasty, and good for you, too.  And, you don't have to worry about how pokey it is, because you're not chewing it, just steeping out the goodness.

That's a LOT of tea, though!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Abe Coley wrote:the core of the stalk is edible & can be quite delicious



I think I remember reading that once the plant goes to bloom, the stalks aren't good for eating. Which was a big bummer, because we were going to eat our thistle last year (supposedly tastes like artichoke, which makes sence, since artichoke is a giant thistle), but we got to it too late.
 
Jane Bartlett
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Thanks.  These guys could definitely feed the neighborhood.  I'd be concerned though about some influence or contamination from the hemlock, which is interspersed between the thistle.  Might not be an issue, but don't want to take that risk - or am I just being paranoid?
 
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That's a good point. If it were mine, I might just take some leaves from the plants/parts of the plants that aren't touching the hemlock. I don't think I'd want any where the Hemlock might have rubbed off on them. Can the hemlock toxins spread through the roots from one plant to another? I wouldn't think so, but I could very well be wrong!
 
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Here is a detailed article on the thistle, all the ways to eat it. http://www.eattheweeds.com/thistle-touch-me-not-but-add-butter-2/ The leaf rib is a great trail side nibble.

You likely already know not to allow that hemlock to go to seed... Trouble. As a side note, I used to worry about confusing it and Queen Annes Lace. But after playing with Queen Annes Lace for several years, I finally ID'd Hemlock. From 150 feet away, at 45 miles an hour. I screeched to a stop and braved chiggars and thistles and baby briar patches to be sure. Yup.
 
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Mow it down before it seeds. You just had the worlds best cover crop.
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:That's a good point. If it were mine, I might just take some leaves from the plants/parts of the plants that aren't touching the hemlock. I don't think I'd want any where the Hemlock might have rubbed off on them. Can the hemlock toxins spread through the roots from one plant to another? I wouldn't think so, but I could very well be wrong!



The hemlock is best removed, roots and all, there is no part of this plant that isn't poisonous and making any type of compost or other soil additive with it will only put the toxins back into the soil, where they will be taken in by other plants.
The toxins do not "leak" out of the roots of the hemlock, so growing other plants near these doesn't cause problems for the other plants.
Hemlock used to be used as a "hedge row", even in ancient Greece this was the common usage of hemlock bushes, along with the use as a poison.

The thistle makes good compost material or can be used as a mulch layer, it is a mineral mining plant so using it for either will put those pulled up minerals into the topsoil layer.
Both of these bushes are fungal dependent, so if you were to let them grow, the hyphae network will develop fairly quickly, then when you pull the hemlock that network of hyphae will remain for the most part and it will connect again as the hyphae regrowth occurs.

Redhawk
 
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Be VERY careful handling the Poison Hemlock.  It can cause severe dermatitis.  I have scarring from dermatitis that I got while clearing a patch of Hemlock.

https://beehabitat.com/2018/02/poison-hemlock-rash/
 
Jane Bartlett
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Thanks everyone!
 
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