Thistle

Cirsium spp.

  • roots of unbolted young plants in autumn are edible raw but may cause gas.

  • roots are best when boiled or roasted.

  • roots contains the starch inulin, which breaks down into a sugar when cooked.

  • cooked roots can be dried and ground to flour.

  • stems and leaves are edible raw, after peeling to remove prickles.

  • immature flowerheads are edible raw, but best when steamed.

  • varieties in the Pacific Northwest include Canada/creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense), Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Indian thistle (Cirsium brevistylum), Hooker's thistle (Cirsium hookerianum) and Leafy thistle (Cirsium foliosum).

  • grows across wide range, in plains, foothills, montane, and subalpine regions.

  • warning: eat in moderation, some thistles are carcinogenic.

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