Fig 1
DESCRIPTION: Height up to 1m. A biennial plant that has pinnately lobed leaves that are tough and spiny borne on cottony stems that are also spiny between the leaves. Pinkish-purple florets atop a globe of spiny bracts. DISTRIBUTION: Widespread and common throughout. HABITAT: Primarily disturbed ground. FLOWERING TIME: July to September. EXTRA NOTES:   Can also be known as the Common, Bull or Scotch Thistle.  According to the native Americans any plant that stings or pricks can be used to alleviate the pain or injury, usually by an ointment prepared from the plant.  An infusion made from the leaves and roots can be allegedly relieve symptoms of a stiff neck, seizures and nervous disorders.  A similar infusion can treat rheumatism or joint pain.  Finely chopped leaves can be used as a poultice.  The flowerheads can also be used, this time as an anti-viral decoction.  The leaves can be cooked or taken raw in a salad provided the thorns have been removed.  Even though the roots are quite starchy they have a flavour similar to Jerusalem artichoke and can be included cooking.   The roots have properties that can lower cholesterol, sugar levels and blood pressure.

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