Compiled and Edited by Ivor Hughes.

Introduction: To many the tribe of Thistle are seen as invaders and despoilers of our cultivated crop lands. Yet nothing could be further from the truth for they provide both food and fodder in times of want and in many cases blessed relief for stubborn medical problems.

The following selection of information is taken from 3 sources and is a small indication of their utility in the affairs of man.

1. USD 1926 Part II

2. Culpeper�s Complete Herbal.

3. Mrs. Grieve F.R.H.S. A Modern Herbal.

Thistle USD 1926 Part II.
Thistle.�Several of the Composites which are popularly called " thistles" have been attributed with therapeutic properties. The following merit attention.

Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. (Cnicus arvensis, Hoffm.) Canada Thistle.

This is a European plant, but widely naturalized in this country. To it have been attributed diaphoretic, emetic, and tonic properties, according to Herman J. Pierce (A. J. P., Ixviii, 1896), contains a volatile alkaloid, and also cnicin, C42H56O15. This is crystallizable, inodorous, very bitter, neutral, scarcely soluble in cold water, more soluble in boiling water, and soluble in all proportions in alcohol. It is analogous to Salicin in composition. It is said to possess emetic and emmenagogue properties.

Cnicus benedictus L. (Centaurea benedicta L.) Blessed Thistle. Chardon benit, Fr. Herba Cardui Benedicti, P. G. Benedieten Distel, G. (Fam. Compositae.)

This is an annual herb, common in Europe and occasionally seen on roadsides and waste places in the United States. The leaves were formerly official. They should be gathered when the plant is in flower, quickly dried, and kept in a dry place. The herb has a feeble, unpleasant odor and an intensely bitter taste, more disagreeable in the fresh then in the dried plant.

Water and alcohol extract its virtues. The infusion with cold water is a grateful bitter; the decoction is nauseous, and offensive to the stomach. The active constituents are volatile oil and cnicin. It has been used as a bitter tonic, and is, in larger quantities, emetic.

Tonic dose, from half a drachm to one drachm (2.0-3.9 Gm.) preferably given as an infusion.

Silybum Marianum (L.) Gaertn. (Mariana Mariana (L.) Hill, Carduus Marianus L.) (Milk Thistle. Lady's Thistle (Fam. Composites) was of old used for the same purpose as C. benedictus. Rademacher attributed great value to the seeds in hemorrhages, particularly when connected with diseased liver or spleen. A decoction (two ounces to the pint of water), in doses of four fluidrachms (15 cc.) every hour, has been used in amenorrhea and menorrhagia.

Culpeper�s Complete Herbal. The Thistles
Of these are many kinds growing here in England which are so well known, that they need no description. Their difference is easily known on the places where they grow, viz.
Place. Some grow in fields, some in meadows, and some among the corn; others on heaths, greens, and waste grounds in many places.
Time. They flower in June and August, and their seed is ripe quickly after.
Government and virtues. Surely Mars rules it, it is such a prickly business. All these thistles are good to provoke urine, and to mend the stinking smell thereof; as also the rank smell of the arm-pits, or the whole body; being boiled in wine and drank, and are said to help a stinking breath, and to strengthen the stomach. Pliny saith, That the juice bathed on the place that wants hair, it being fallen off, will cause it to grow speedily.

It rises up with tender single hoary green stalks, bearing thereon four or five green leaves, dented about the edges; the points thereof are little or nothing prickly, and at the top usually but one head, yet sometimes from the bosom of the uppermost leaves there shoots forth another small head, scaly and prickly, with many reddish thrumbs or threads in the middle, which being gathered fresh, will keep the colour a long time, and fades not from the stalk a long time, while it perfects the seed, which is of a mean bigness, lying in the down. The root hath many strings fastened to the head, or upper part, which is blackish, and perishes not. There is another sort little differing from the former, but that the leaves are more green above, and more hoary underneath, and the stalk being about two feet high, bears but one scaly head, with threads and seeds as the former.
Place. They grow in many moist meadows of this land, as well in the southern, as in the northern parts.
Time. They flower about July or August, and their seed ripens quickly after.
Government and virtues. It is under Capricorn, and therefore under both Saturn and Mars, one rids melancholy by sympathy, the other by antipathy. Their virtues are but few, but those not to be despised; for the decoction of the thistle in wine being drank, expels superfluous melancholy out of the body, and makes a man as merry as a cricket; superfluous melancholy causes care, fear, sadness, despair, envy, and many evils more besides; but religion teaches to wait upon God's providence, and cast our care upon him who cares for us. What a fine thing were it if men and women could live so! And yet seven years' care and fear makes a man never the wiser, nor a farthing richer. Dioscorides saith, The root borne about one doth the like, and removes all diseases of melancholy. Modern writers laugh at him. Let them laugh that win: my opinion is, that it is the best remedy against all melancholy diseases that grows; they that please may use it.

Our Lady's Thistle hath divers very large and broad leaves lying on the ground cut in, and as it were crumpled, but somewhat hairy on the edges, of a white green shining colour, wherein are many lines and streaks of a milk white colour, running all over, and set with many sharp and stiff prickles all about, among which rises up one or more strong, round, and prickly stalks, set full of the like leaves up to the top, where at the end of every branch, comes forth a great prickly Thistle-like head, strongly armed with prickles, and with bright purple thumbs rising out of the middle; after they are past, the seed grows in the said heads, lying in soft white down, which is somewhat flatfish in the ground, and many strings and fibres fastened thereunto. All the whole plant is bitter in taste.
Place. It is frequent on the banks of almost every ditch.
Time. It flowers and seeds in June, July, and August.
Government and virtues. Our Lady's Thistle is under Jupiter, and thought to be as effectual as Carduus Benedictus for agues, and to prevent and cure the infection of the plague: as also to open the obstructions of the liver and spleen, and thereby is good against the jaundice. It provokes urine, breaks and expels the stone, and is good for the dropsy. It is effectual also for the pains in the sides, and many other inward pains and gripings. The seed and distilled water is held powerful to all the purposes aforesaid, and besides, it is often applied both outwardly with cloths or spunges to the region of the liver, to cool the distemper thereof; and to the region of the heart, against swoonings and the passions of it. It cleanses the blood exceedingly: and in Spring, if you please to boil the tender plant (but cut off the prickles unless you have a mind to choak yourself) it will change your blood as the season changes, and that is the way to be safe.

This has many large leaves lying upon the ground, somewhat cut in, and as it were crumpled on the edges, of a green colour on the upper side, but covered over with a long hairy wool or cotton down, set with most sharp and cruel pricks; from the middle of whose heads of flowers come forth many purplish crimson threads, and sometimes white, although but seldom. The seed that follow in those white downy heads, is somewhat large and round, resembling the seed of Lady's Thistle, but paler. The root is great and thick, spreading much, yet usually dies after seed time.
Place. It grows in divers ditch-banks, and in the corn-fields, and highways, generally throughout the land, and is often growing in gardens.
Government and virtues. It is a plant of Mars. Dioscorides and Pliny write, That the leaves and roots hereof taken in drink, help those that have a crick in their neck, that they cannot turn it, unless they turn their whole body. Galen saith, That the roots and leaves hereof are good for such persons that have their bodies drawn together by some spasm or convulsion, or other infirmities; as the rickets (or as the college of physicians would have it, Rachites, about which name they have quarreled sufficiently) in children, being a disease that hinders their growth, by binding their nerves, ligaments, and whole structure of their body.

It is so well known, that it needs no description, being used with the cloth-workers.The wild Teasle is in all things like the former, but that the prickles are small, soft, and upright, not hooked or stiff, and the flowers of this are of a fine bluish, or pale carnation colour, but of the manured kind, whitish.
Place. The first grows, being sown in gardens or fields for the use of cloth workers. The other near ditches and rills of water in many places of this land.
Time. They flower in July, and are ripe in the end of August.
Government and virtues. It is an herb of Venus. Dioscorides saith, That the root bruised and boiled in wine, till it be thick, and kept in a brazen vessel, and after spread as a salve, and applied to the fundament, doth heal the cleft thereof, cankers and fistulas therein, also takes away warts and wens. The juice of the leaves dropped into the ears, kills worms in them. The distilled water of the leaves dropped into the eyes, takes away redness and mists in them that hinder the sight, and is often used by women to preserve their beauty, and to take away redness and inflammations, and all other heat or discolourings.

A Modern Herbal. Mrs. M Grieve F.R.H.S.
THISTLES. N.O. Compositea.
Thistle is the old English name, essentially the same in all kindred languages, for a large family of plants occurring chiefly in Europe and Asia, of which we have fourteen species in Great Britain, arranged under the botanical groups Carduus, Carlina, Onopordon and Carbenia, or Cnicus. In agriculture the Thistle is the recognized sign of untidiness and neglect, being found not so much in barren ground, as in good ground not properly cared for. It has always been a plant of ill repute among us; Shakespeare classes 'rough Thistles' with 'hateful Docks,' and further back in the history of our race we read of the Thistle representing part of the primeval curse on the earth in general, and on man in particular, for - 'Thorns also and Thistles shall it bring forth to thee.'

Thistles will soon monopolize a large extent of country to the extinction of other plants, as they have done in parts of the American prairies, in Canada and British Columbia, and as they did in Australia, till a stringent Act of Parliament was passed, about twenty years ago, imposing heavy penalties upon all who neglected to destroy Thistles on their land, every man being now compelled to root out, within fourteen days, any Thistle that may lift up its head, Government inspectors being specially appointed to carry out the enforcement of the law.

The growth of weeds in Great Britain, having, in the opinion of many, also reached disturbing proportions, it is now proposed to enact a similar law in this country, and the Smallholders' Union is bringing forward a 'Bill to prevent the spread of noxious weeds in England and Wales,' the provisions being similar to the Australian law - weed-infested roadsides, as well as badly-cleared cultivated land, to come within the scope of the enactment.

Among the thirteen noxious weeds enumerated in the proposed Bill, the name of Thistle is naturally to be found. And yet in medicine Thistles are far from useless. When beaten up or crushed in a mill to destroy the prickles, the leaves of all Thistles have proved excellent food for cattle and horses. This kind of fodder was formerly used to a great extent in Scotland before the introduction of special green crops for the purpose. The young stems of many of the Thistles are also edible, and the seeds of all the species yield a good oil by expression.

Two or three of our native species are handsome enough to be worthy of a place in gardens. Some species which flourish in hotter and drier climates than our own, such as the handsome Yellow Thistles of the south of Europe, Scolymus, are cultivated for that purpose, and have a classical interest, being mentioned by Hesiod as the flower of summer. This striking plant, crowned with its golden flowers, is abundant throughout Sicily. The Fish-bone Thistle (Chanuepeuce diacantha), from Syria, is also a very handsome plant. A grand Scarlet Thistle from Mexico (Erythrolena conspicua) was grown in England some fifty years ago, but is now never seen.

THISTLE, HOLY Carbenia benedicta (BERUL.)
Blessed Thistle. Cnicus benedictus (Gaetn.). Carduus benedictus (Steud.)
Part Used. Herb
A Thistle, however, that has been cultivated for several centuries in this country for its medicinal use is known as the Blessed or Holy Thistle. It is a handsome annual, a native of Southern Europe, occurring there in waste, stony, uncultivated places, but it grows more readily in England in cultivation. It is said to have obtained its name from its high reputation as a heal-all, being supposed even to cure the plague. It is mentioned in all the treatises on the Plague, and especially by Thomas Brasbridge, who in 1578 published his Poore Man's Jewell, that is to say, a Treatise of the Pestilence, unto which is annexed a declaration of the vertues of the Hearbes Carduus Benedictus and Angelica.

Shakespeare in Much Ado about Nothing, says: 'Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus and lay it to your heart; it is the only thing for a qualm. ... I mean plain Holy Thistle.' The 'distilled leaves, it says 'helpeth the hart,' 'expelleth all poyson taken in at the mouth and other corruption that doth hurt and annoye the hart," and 'the juice of it is outwardly applied to the bodie' ('lay it to your heart,' Sh.), 'therefore I counsell all that have Gardens to nourish it, that they may have it always to their own use, and the use of their neighbours that lacke it.'
It has sometimes been stated that the herb was first cultivated by Gerard in 1597, but as this book was published twenty years previously it would appear to have been in cultivation much earlier, and in fact it is described and its virtues enumerated in the Herbal of Turner in 1568.

Description. The stem of the Blessed Thistle grows about 2 feet high, is reddish, slender, very much branched and scarcely able to keep upright under the weight of its leaves and flower heads. The leaves are long, narrow, clasping the dull green stem, with prominent pale veins, the irregular teeth of the wavy margin ending in spines. The flowers are pale yellow, in green prickly heads, each scale of the involucre, or covering of the head, ending also in a long, brown bristle. The whole plant, leaves, stalks and also the flower heads, are covered with a thin down. It grows more compactly in some soils than in others. Cultivation. Being an annual, Blessed Thistle is propagated by seed. It thrives in any ordinary soil. Allow 2 feet each way when thinning out the seedlings. Though occurring sometimes in waste places in England as an escape from cultivation, it cannot be considered indigenous to this country. The seeds are usually sown in spring, but if the newly-ripened seeds are sown in September or October in sheltered situations, it is possible to have supplies of the herb green, both summer and winter.
Part Used. The whole herb. The leaves and flowering tops are collected in July, just as the plant breaks into flower, and cut on a dry day, the best time being about noon, when there is no longer any trace of dew on them. About 3 � tons of fresh herb produce 1 ton when dried, and about 35 cwt. of dry herb can be raised per acre.
Chemical Constituents. Blessed Thistle contains a volatile oil, and a bitter, crystalline neutral body called Cnicin (soluble in alcohol and slightly also in water) which is said to be analogous to Salicin in its properties.
Medicinal Action and Uses. Tonic, stimulant, diaphoretic, emetic and emmenagogue. In large doses, Blessed Thistle acts as a strong emetic, producing vomiting with little pain and inconvenience. Cold infusions in smaller draughts are valuable in weak and debilitated conditions of the stomach, and as a tonic, creating appetite and preventing sickness. The warm infusion 1 oz. of the dried herb to a pint of boiling water - in doses of a wineglassful, forms in intermittent fevers one of the most useful diaphoretics to which employment can be given. The plant was at one time supposed to possess very great virtues against fevers of all kinds. Fluid extract, � to 1 drachm. It is said to have great power in the purification and circulation of the blood, and on this account strengthens the brain and the memory. The leaves, dried and powdered, are good for worms.

It is chiefly used now for nursing mothers, the warm infusion scarcely ever failing to procure a proper supply of milk. It is considered one of the best medicines which can be used for the purpose. Turner (1568) says: 'It is very good for the headache and the megram, for the use of the juice or powder of the leaves, preserveth and keepeth a man from the headache, and healeth it being present. It is good for any ache in the body and strengthened! the members of the whole body, and fasteneth loose sinews and weak. It is also good for the dropsy. It helpeth the memory and amendeth thick hearing. The leaves provoke sweat. There is nothing better for the canker and old rotten and festering sores than the leaves, juice, broth, powder and water of Carduus benedictus.'

Culpepper (1652) writes of it: 'It is a herb of Mars, and under the Sign Aries. It helps swimmings and giddiness in the head, or the disease called vertigo, because Aries is the House of Mars. It is an excellent remedy against yellow jaundice and other infirmities of the gall, because Mars governs choller. It strengthens the attractive faculty in man, and clarifies the blood, because the one is ruled by Mars. The continual drinking the decoction of it helps red faces, tetters and ringworm, because Mars causeth them. It helps plague-sores, boils and itch, the bitings of mad dogs and venomous beasts, all which infirmities are under Mars. Thus you see what it doth by sympathy. 'By Antypathy to other Planets: it cures the French Pox by Antypathy to Venus who governs it. It strengthens the memory and cures deafness by Antypathy to Saturn, who hath his fall in Aries which Rules the Head. It cures Quarten Agues and other diseases of Melancholy, and a dust Choller by Sympathy to Saturn, Mars being exalted in Capricorn. Also it provokes Urine, the stopping of which is usually caused by Mars or the Moon.'

Mattheolus and Fuschius wrote also of Carduus benedictus: 'It is a plant of great virtue; it helpeth inwardly and outwardly; it strengthens all the principal members of the body, as the brain, the heart, the stomach, the liver, the lungs and the kidney; it is also a preservative against all disease, for it causes perspiration, by which the body is purged of much corruption, such as breedeth diseases; it expelleth the venom of infection; it consumes and wastes away all bad humours; therefore, give God thanks for his goodness, Who hath given this herb and all others for the benefit of our health.'

Four different ways of using Blessed Thistle have been recommended: It may be eaten in the green leaf, with bread and butter for breakfast, like Watercress; the dried leaves may be made into a powder and a drachm taken in wine or otherwise every day; a wineglassful of the juice may be taken every day, or, which is the usual and the best method, an infusion may be made of the dried herb, taken any time as a preventive, or when intended to remove disease, at bed time, as it causes copious perspiration.

Many of the other Thistles may be used as substitute for the Blessed Thistle. The seeds of the Milk Thistle (Carduus Manama), known also as Silybum Marianum, have similar properties and uses, and the Cotton Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, etc., have also been employed for like purposes.

THISTLE, MILK. Silybum Marianum
Marian Thistle
Parts Used. Whole herb, root, leaves, seeds and hull
The Marian, or Milk Thistle, is perhaps the most important medicinally among the members of this genus, to which all botanists do not, however, assign it, naming it Silybum Marianum.


Description. It is a fine, tall plant, about J the size of the Cotton Thistle, with cut-into root-leaves, waved and spiny at the margin, of a deep, glossy green, with milk-white vein?, and is found not uncommonly in hedge banks and on waste ground, especially by buildings, which causes some authorities to consider that it may not be a true native.

In Scotland it is rare. This handsome plant is not unworthy of a place in our gardens and shrubberies and was formerly frequently cultivated. The stalks, like those of most of our larger Thistles, may be eaten, and are palatable and nutritious. The leaves also may be eaten as a salad when young. Bryant, in his Flora Dietetica, writes of it: 'The young shoots in the spring, cut close to the root with part of the stalk on, is one of the best boiling salads that is eaten, and surpasses the finest cabbage. They were sometimes baked in pies. The roots may be eaten like those of Salsify.' In some districts the leaves are called 'Pig Leaves,' probably because pigs like them, and the seeds are a favourite food of goldfinches.

The common statement that this bird lines its nest with thistledown is scarcely accurate, the substance being in most cases the down of Colt's-foot (Tussilago), or the cotton down from the willow, both of which are procurable at the building season, whereas thistledown is at that time immature. Westmacott, writing in 1694, says of this Thistle: 'It is a Friend to the Liver and Blood: the prickles cut off, they were formerly used to be boiled in the Spring and eaten with other herbs; but as the World decays, so doth the Use of good old things and others more delicate and less virtuous brought in.' The heads of this Thistle formerly were eaten, boiled, treated like those of the Artichoke.

There is a tradition that the milk-white veins of the leaves originated in the milk of the Virgin which once fell upon a plant of Thistle, hence it was called Our Lady's Thistle, and the Latin name of the species has the same derivation.

Medicinal Action and Uses. The seeds of this plant are used nowadays for the same Purpose as Blessed Thistle, and on this point John Evelyn wrote: 'Disarmed of its prickles and boiled, it is worthy of esteem, and thought to be a great breeder of milk and proper diet for women who are nurses.' It is in popular use in Germany for curing jaundice and kindred biliary derangements. It also acts as a demulcent in catarrh and pleurisy. The decoction when applied externally is said to have proved beneficial in cases of cancer.

Gerard wrote of the Milk Thistle that 'the root if borne about one doth expel melancholy and remove all diseases connected therewith. My opinion is that this is the best remedy that grows against all melancholy diseases,' which was another way of saying that it had good action on the liver. He also tells us: 'Dioscorides affirmed that the seeds being drunke are a remedy for infants that have their sinews drawn together, and for those that be bitten of serpents:' and we find in a record of old Saxon remedies that 'this wort if hung upon a man's neck it setteth snakes to flight." The seeds were also formerly thought to cure hydrophobia.

Culpepper considered the Milk Thistle to be as efficient as Carduus benedictus for agues, and preventing and curing the infection of the plague, and also for removal of obstructions of the liver and spleen. He recommends the infusion of the fresh root and seeds, not only as good against jaundice, also for breaking and expelling stone and being good for dropsy when taken internally, but in addition, to be applied externally, with cloths, to the liver. With other writers, he recommends the young, tender plant (after removing the prickles) to be boiled and eaten in the spring as a blood cleanser.

A tincture is prepared by homoeopathists for medicinal use from equal parts of the root and the seeds with the hull attached. It is said that the empirical nostrum, anti-glaireux, of Count Mattaei, is prepared from this species of Thistle. Thistles in general, according to Culpepper, are under the dominion of Jupiter.

. Cotton Thistle. Woolly Thistle
Parts Used. Leaves, root

The Scotch Thistle, or Cotton Thistle (Onopordon Acanthium) is one of the most beautiful of British plants, not uncommon in England, by roadsides and in waste places, particularly in chalky and sandy soils in the southern counties.

Description. It is a biennial, flowering in late summer and autumn. The erect stem, 18 inches to 5 feet high, is very stout and much branched, furnished with wing-like appendages (the decurrent bases of the leaves) which are broader than its own diameter. The leaves are very large, waved and with sharp prickles on the margin. The flowers are light purple and surrounded with a nearly globular involucre, with scales terminating in strong, yellow spines. The whole plant is hoary with a white, cottony down, that comes off readily when rubbed, and causes the young leaves to be quite white. From the presence of this covering, the Thistle has obtained its popular name of Cotton or Woolly Thistle.

This species is one of the stiffest and most thorny of its race, and its sharp spines well agree with Gerard's description of the plant as 'set full of most horrible sharp prickles, so that it is impossible for man or beast to touch the same without great hurt and danger."

Which is the true Scotch Thistle even the Scottish antiquarians cannot decide, but it is generally considered to be this species of Thistle that was originally the badge of the House of Stuart, and came to be regarded as the national emblem of Scotland. The first heraldic use of the plant would appear to be in the inventory of the property of James III of Scotland, made at his death in 1458, where a hanging embroidered with 'thrissils' is mentioned. It was, undoubtedly, a national badge in 1503, in which year Dunbar wrote his poetic allegory, 'The Thrissill and the Rose,' on the union of James IV and Princess Margaret of England. The Order of the Thistle, which claims, with the exception of the Garter, to be the most ancient of our Orders, was instituted in 1540 by James V, and revived by James VII of Scotland and Second of England, who created eight Knights in 1687. The expressive motto of the Order, Nemo me impune lacessit (which would seem to apply most aptly to the species just described), appears surrounding the Thistle that occupies the centre of the coinage of James VI. From that date until now, the Thistle has had a place on our coins.

Pliny states, and mediaeval writers repeat, that a decoction of Thistles applied to a bald head would restore a healthy growth of hair.

Medicinal Action and Uses. The Ancients supposed this Thistle to be a specific in cancerous complaints, and in more modern times the juice is said to have been applied with good effect to cancers and ulcers. A decoction of the root is astringent and diminishes discharges from mucous membranes. Gerard tells us, on the authority of Dioscorides and Pliny, that 'the leaves and root hereof are a remedy for those that have their bodies drawn backwards,' and Culpepper explains that not only is the juice therefore good for a crick in the neck, but also as a remedy for rickets in children. It was considered also to be good in nervous complaints.

The name of the genus is derived from the Greek words onos (an ass) and per don (I disperse wind), the species being said to produce this effect in asses. The juicy receptacle or disk on which the florets are placed was used in earlier times as the Artichoke - which is also a member of the Thistle tribe. The young stalks, when stripped of their rind, may be eaten like those of the Burdock.

The cotton is occasionally collected from the stem and used to stuff pillows, and the oil obtained from the seeds has been used on the Continent for burning, both in lamps and for ordinary culinary purposes. Twelve pounds of the seeds are said to produce, when heat is used in expression, about 3 lb. of oil.

The greater number of the Thistles are assigned to the genus Carduus. The derivation of the name of this genus is difficult to determine; by some orders it is said to come from the Greek cheuro, a technical word denoting the operation of carding wool, to which process the heads of some of the species are applicable.

THISTLE, DWARF. Carduus acaulis
Ground Thistle. Dwarf May Thistle (Culpepper)
Part Used. Root
Carduus acaulis, the Dwarf Thistle, is England, particularly on the east aide. It is a found in pastures, especially chalk downs, perennial, with a long, woody root-stock, and is rather common in the southern half of The stem in the ordinary form is so short that the flowers appear to be sessile, or sitting, in the centre of the rosette of prickly leaves, but very occasionally it attains the length of a foot or 18 inches, and then is usually slightly branched. The leaves are spiny and rigid, with only a few hairs on the upper side, and on the veins beneath, and are of a dark, shining green. The flowers are large and dark crimson in colour, and are in bloom from July to September.

Way Thistle
Parts Used. Root, leaves Carduus arvensis, the Creeping Plume Thistle, or Way Thistle, has many varieties. It is found in cultivated fields and waste places, and is very common and widely distributed. The root-stock is perennial, creeping extensively and sending up leafy barren shoots and flowering stems about 3 feet high.

Field Thistle
Parts Used. Root, leaves Carduus crispus, the Welted Thistle, or Field Thistle, is one of the taller species. The stem, 3 to 4 feet high, is erect, branched, continuously spinous-winged throughout. The leaves are green on both sides, downy on the veins beneath, narrow, cut into numerous lobes and very prickly. The flowers are purplish-crimson, not very large, sometimes clustered three or four together on short stalks. The plant varies much in the degree.

Parts Used.
Root, leaves Carduus eriophorus, the Woolly-headed Thistle, is a biennial. The stem is elongated, branched, not winged, short and furrowed, woolly, 3 to 5 feet high. The lowest leaves are very large, often 2 feet long, the stem leaves much smaller, all deeply cut into, with strap-shaped lobes joined together in pairs in the lower ones. The flowers are light reddish-purple, the large woolly heads covered with reddish curled hairs.

Parts Used.
Root, leaves Carduus heterophyllus, the Melancholy Thistle, is said by some to have been the original badge of the House of Stuart, instead of the Cotton Thistle; it is the Cluas an fleidh of the Highlanders, and is more common in Scotland than in England, where it only occurs in the midland and northern counties, growing no farther south than the northern counties of Wales. It is a perennial, with a long and creeping root. The stems are tall and stout, often deeply furrowed, and more or less covered with a white or cotton-like down. The leaves clasp the stem at their bases and white dark green above, have their under-surfaces thickly covered with white and down-like hairs.

Unlike most of the Thistles, the leaves are not continued down the stem at all, and are much simpler in form than the ordinary type of Thistle foliage. Their edges have small bristle-like teeth. The flower heads are borne, singly on long stalks, the bracts that form the involucre being quite destitute of prickles.

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