Thistle Soup

And how bland life would be if we all agreed.

Over the past few weeks I have been tracking the growth of Canada thistle plants on my walks, so today I thought I’d consult my flower books and do a little net-surfing to find out more about them.

The articles would do a thesaurus proud when it comes to a choice of adjectives appropriate to describe this plant: injurious, invasive, competitive, noxious, pernicious. Some used phrases such as  “aggressively spreading,” nuisance weed,” and “nasty little plant”.

And all articles propagated in Canada were quick to point out that it is indeed not native to this continent but was rather introduced from points abroad as early as the 1600’s.  That makes it a great deal more Canadian than most of us, I daresay.

They all agree that Cirsium arvense is a perennial plant with not only a taproot but a spreading lateral root system from which new plants sprout. So even if you can cut it down before it seeds it can still come back to haunt you next year.

On the plus side, many butterflies and moths feed from the flowers, Goldfinches like the seeds, and best of all the plant is humanly edible- leaf, stalk, and taproot. (though the taproot contains an indigestible starch that can ferment and cause gas).

So should thistles irritate you overly it is possible to take revenge, and benefit at the same time.  This link, lavishly illustrated with full-colour photographs, will walk you through the basics of harvesting, and cooking  thistles for Thistle Soup,  It generally speaks up for “this nasty little plant.”

And I, I will provide you with photographs for identification for whatever purpose.

First the bud

Then the first hint of coming purple

And finally the flower- plus fan


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