Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

thistle the name for many plants, generally thought of as prickly rather than nutritious. However, many are eaten, notably the artichoke.

Some wild European thistles of the genus Carduus have stems which, once peeled, can be used like asparagus and have a good flavour (see cardoon). In France and Germany names meaning ‘wild artichoke’ are given to various thistles with edible heads, including the smooth carline thistle, Carlina acaulis, and milk thistle, Silybum marianum.

Many thistles also have edible roots, including Onopordum acanthium, the species which is the symbol of Scotland; the milk thistle; and Spanish salsify.