foraging food




Are all thistles edible? 

We use the name ‘thistle’ for a great number of plants, most of which don’t even share the same genus!

Many species of thistles are in fact edible and have been used for centuries in various cuisines around the world. Thistles are generally rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making them a nutritious addition to any diet.

The leaves, stems and roots of most thistle species can be consumed after proper preparation. Some popular dishes made using thistles include salads, soups, teas and even desserts. One of the most commonly eaten thistle species is the artichoke thistle, which is particularly popular in Mediterranean cuisine.

young & tender thistle

The ideal foraging for thistles is when the plant is young and tender, unfortunately when young many of these plants look same-similar.

In nearly all cases the leaves form a rosette around the central tap root. Some will have upright leaves others will lay them on the ground.

Pull the young plant, with the root, when it has around 4-6 leaves. Older plants with 7+ leaves will be more bitter in flavour.

Trim the tough fibrous end of the root leaving the part of the root nearest the beginning of the stem. Soak in water then rinse thoroughly before cooking.

Each species have a range of leaf morphology

a tender thistle plant

Young thistle plants have rough textured leaves often with small spines, stiff bristles or hair-like structures. The leaves can be elliptical, lobed ……

These are a few examples of some young thistle plants:

Carduus argentatus species

Onopordum cyprium

Eryngium creticum

Gundelia tournefortii

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