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Musk Thistle
Carduus nutans


Appearance and General Info


Common Name: 
Musk Thistle

Musk thistle is known for its beautiful flower heads, usually purple or rose to pink.  The radially symmetrical disk flowers are at the end of the branches. They have erect stems and prickly leaves, with a characteristic enlarged base of the flower which is commonly spiny. The leaves are alternate, and some species can be slightly hairy. Extensions from the leaf base down the stem, called wings, can be lacking, conspicuous, or inconspicuous. They can spread by seed, and also by rhizomes below the surface. The seed has tufts of tiny hair, or pappus, which can carry them far by wind.

Medicinal Uses:
The thistle is one of the best doctors in the house and can improve the healing tract for most ailments.  Because of the alkaline chemistry of the leaves, drinking the leaves in a green juice is one of the best preventions of most diseases.  The leaves provide exceptional enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.  The root is a deep tap root pulling many minerals from the earth’s core and transferring them into the leaves.  The root can be harvested and dried and stored for the winter season.  It is a fantastic support to the liver and kidneys.  It can also be chewed as a remedy for toothaches. The leaves are antiphlogistic, meaning they are successful at reducing inflammation or fever.

Edible Uses:
The roots, stems, leaves and flowers of the thistle are all edible. The young stems can be peeled and eaten raw, and are soft, juicy and sweet.  They are best before the plant goes to flower.  The purple flowers are sweet and make a beautiful and delicious addition to salads.  The leaves of the thistle can be carefully eaten out in the field, but are easier used if blended with water and strained into a juice.  The roots make a delicious tea that supports the efficient functioning of the entire system.