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Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Michael Moore’s books contain an excellent glossary of medical terms, as well as maps. )
 
#34
Common Name: Thistle
Latin Name: Cirsium arvense, 
Family: compositae
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIAR4 not present Hawaii, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, ( C. arvense)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIBR2 Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California (C. brevistylum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIED Washington, Oregon, Idaho (C. edule)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIFO Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming (C. foliosum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIHO same states as above (C. hookerianum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIOC California, Oregon, Nevada (C. occidentale )
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIOC2 Calofornia, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, S. Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin (C. ochrocentrum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIPA5 New Mexico, Colorado (C. pallidum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CISC3 Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico (C. scopulorum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIUN Most states east of the Mississippi (excluding Louisiana, Arkansas) + Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennslyvania, Georgia (C. undulatum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CIVI Florida, Georgia, S. and N. Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware (C. virginianum)
 
#34 (a)
Common Name: Canadian Thistle, Creeping Thistle (C. arvense)
Appearance and Habitat: Arable land, roadsides etc. a common weed of cultivated land.  Near worldwide distribution.  A perennial  growing to 0.9 m (3ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.  It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.
Photos:http://www.google.com/search?q=photos+of+cirsium+arvense&hl=en&biw=1016&bih=588&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=TxqjTpaVKeS0iQL7nI0v&ved=0CB0QsAQ
Edible Uses: Root of first year plants – raw or cooked. Nutritious but rather bland, they are best used in a mixture with other vegetables. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Stems – they are peeled and cooked like asparagus or rhubarb. Leaves – raw or cooked. A fairly bland flavour, but the prickles need to be removed before the leaves can be eaten – not only is this rather fiddly but very little edible leaf remains. The leaves are also used to coagulate plant milks etc.
Medical Uses: The root is tonic, diuretic, astringent, antiphlogistic and hepatic. It has been chewed as a remedy for toothache. A decoction of the roots has been used to treat worms in children. A paste of the roots, combined with an equal quantity of the root paste of Amaranthus spinosus, is used in the treatment of indigestion. The plant contains a volatile alkaloid and a glycoside called cnicin, which has emetic and emmenagogue properties. The leaves are antiphlogistic. They cause inflammation and have irritating properties.
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#34 (b)
Common Name: Clustered Thistle, Indian Thistle (C. brevistylum)

Appearance and Habitat: Bushy and wooded slopes, in mixed evergreen forests and in coastal scrub in California.  Western N. America.  A perennial growing to 1.8 m (6ft).
Edible Uses: Root – peeled and eaten raw or cooked. One of the more palatable thistle roots. The thick, carrot-like taproot is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Stem – peeled. One of the more palatable thistles. The flowerheads have been chewed to obtain the nectar
Medical Uses: None
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# 34 (c)
 Common Name: Edible Thistle  (C. edule)

Appearance and Habitat: Wet meadows and open woods in mountains.  Western N. America southwards from Canada.  A perennial  growing to 2 m (6ft 7in).  It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September.
Photos: http://www.google.com/search?q=photos+of+cirsium+edule&hl=en&biw=1016&bih=588&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=PhejTq3RGuKUiAKuifGHCw&ved=0CB0QsAQ
Edible Uses: Root – cooked. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Young stems – peeled and eaten raw. Soft and sweet, they are considered to be a luxury food. Young shoots – raw or cooked as greens. Harvested in spring.
Medical Uses: None
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#34 (d)
Common Name: Elk Thistle (C. foliosum)
Appearance and Habitat:  Swales and other moderately moist and badly drained sites.  N. America- Montana to Saskatchewan.  A perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft).  It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September.
Photos:  http://www.google.com/search?q=photos+of+cirsium+foliosum&hl=en&biw=1016&bih=588&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=rxWjTsrdKuSgiQLDs4VU&ved=0CB0QsAQ
Edible Uses: Root – cooked. About the size of a carrot, they are sweet and well-flavoured though require long preparation. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Plant crown. No more details are given. Stems – peeled. The peeled stems are a sweet potherb. Tender with a sweet delicate taste.
Medical Uses: None
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# 34 (e)

Common Name: White Thistle (C. hookerianum)

Appearance and Habitat: Moist bottoms, open rocky slopes and cultivated fields in Western N. America – British Columbia to Alaska and south to Washington.  A perennial growing to 1.5 m (5ft).
Edible Uses: Root – cooked. Boiled as a vegetable, or added to soups and stews. It can also be dried and stored for later use. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence.
Medical Uses: None
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 #34 (f)

Common Name: Cobwebby Thistle (C. occidentale)

Appearance and Habitat: Sandy places by the coast ad into nearby hills.  South-western N. America – S. California.  A perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).  It is hardy to zone 9.
 
Photos: http://www.google.com/search?q=photos+of+cirsium+occidentale&hl=en&biw=1016&bih=588&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=6RKjTrH1EITdiALWxeh0&ved=0CB0QsAQ
Edible Uses: Root – cooked. A pleasant taste after prolonged boiling. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Stem – peeled and eaten raw.
Medical Uses: None
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#34 (g)

Common Name: Yellowspine Thistle (C. ochrocentrum)

Appearance and Habitat: Dry slopes, 1500 – 3000 meters in California.  Sandy or rocky priaries and roadsides.  South-western N. America – California to Texas and Nebraska.  A perennial growing to 1.5 m (5ft).
Edible Uses: Root – cooked. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Stem. No further details are given, but it is probably best if peeled.
Medical Uses: The entire plant is diaphoretic and diuretic. It is infused overnight in cold water and the water is then drunk in the treatment of syphilis. A liquid from the boiled blossoms has been used to treat burns and skin sores. A decoction of the root has been taken by both partners as a contraceptive. It has also been taken five times a day in the treatment of diabetes.
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#34 (h)
 Common Name: Pale Thistle (C. pallidum)
Appearance and Habitat: South-western N. America. A perennial.
Edible Uses: Seed – cooked. It can be eaten boiled or ground into a powder and used with cereal flours to make bread etc.
Medical Uses: The roots are diuretic.
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#34 (i)
Common Name: Mountain Thistle (C. scopulorum )

Appearance and Habitat: North Central N. America – Montana.  A perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft).  It is hardy to zone 5.
Photos: http://www.google.com/search?q=photos+of+cirsium+scopulorum&hl=en&biw=1016&bih=588&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=8wyjTv6DA-rPiAL9mo1X&ved=0CB0QsAQ
Edible Uses: Root – raw or cooked. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Stems. No more details are given, but it is probably best if it is peeled.
Medical Uses: None
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#34 (j)

Common Name: Wavyleaf Thistle (C. undulatum )

Appearance and Habitat: Dry open soils, prairies, pastures and roadsides in Texas.  Western N. America – British Columbia to Texas.  A perennial  growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
Edible Uses: Root – raw or cooked. One of the more palatable thistles, it is used as a vegetable or can be added to soups and stews. It can be dried and stored for winter use. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Stems – peeled and eaten raw or cooked. One of the more palatable thistles.
Medical Uses: A decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of gonorrhoea. A cold infusion of the root has been used as a wash for eye diseases.
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#34 (k)
Common Name: Virginia Thistle (C. virginianum )
Appearance and Habitat: Wet pineland, sphagnum or peaty bogs, swales and clearings on coastal plain. South-eastern N. America – Florida to New Jersey.  A biennial growing to 1.2 m (4ft).
Edible Uses: Root – cooked. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence
Medical Uses: None
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 #34 (l)

Common Name: Bull Thistle, Common Thistle (C. vulgare )
Appearance and Habitat: Fields, waysides, gardens and waste places to 600 meters. A biennial growing to 2m (6ft 7in). It is hardy to zone 2 and is not frost tender.  Nearly worldwide.
Edible Uses: Root – cooked. A taste somewhat like a Jerusalem artichoke, but not as nice. A rather bland flavour, the root is best used mixed with other vegetables. The root can be dried and stored for later use. The root is rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Young flower stems – cooked and used as a vegetable. Young leaves can be soaked overnight in salt water and then cooked and eaten. Another report says that they can be used in salads. The taste is rather bland but the prickles need to be removed from the leaves before the leaves can be eaten – not only is this a rather fiddly operation but very little edible matter remains. Flower buds – cooked. Used like globe artichokes, but smaller and even more fiddly. The dried flowers are a rennet substitute for curdling plant milks. Seed – occasionally eaten roasted.
Medical Uses: The roots have been used as a poultice and a decoction of the plant used as a poultice on sore jaws. A hot infusion of the whole plant has been used as a herbal steam for treating rheumatic joints. A decoction of the whole plant has been used both internally and externally to treat bleeding piles

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