Stemless Carline Thistle (Carlina acaulis)

Botanical Name :Carlina acaulis
Family : Compositae/Asteraceae
Genus : Carlina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Cynareae
Species: C. acaulis
Common Names :Stemless carline thistle, Dwarf carline thistle, or Silver thistle

Habitat: Native to alpine regions of central and southern Europe. Poor soils in dry sandy pastures and on rocky slopes, especially on limestone.Cultivated Beds;

Description:
It is  Biennial/Perennial  dicotyledonous flowering plant in the family Asteraceae,  The common names are descriptive of the manner that its flower head rests directly upon a basal leaf rosette.

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The spiny, pinnatilobate leaves grow in a basal rosette approximately 20 cm in diameter. The flowers are produced in a large (up to 10 cm) flowerhead of silvery-white ray florets around a central disc. The disc florets are tubular and yellow-brown in colour. To protect the pollen, the head closes in wet weather, a phenomenon folklore holds to presage forthcoming rain. The flowering time is between August and September.

It prefers chalky soils and dry pastures in environments from valleys up to an altitude of 2,800 m.

It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soi

Subspecies
There are two subspecies:

Carlina acaulis subsp. acaulis – inflorescences sessile
Carlina acaulis subsp. simplex – inflorescences with a short stem

Cultivation:
Succeeds in a sunny position in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a neutral to alkaline soil. Prefers a poor soil. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. The stemless carline thistle is a protected plant in the wild because of its rarity. This species resents root disturbance, it should be planted into its final position as soon as possible. Plants are usually short-lived or monocarpic. The plant is popular in dried flower arranging, the dried heads keeping their appearance indefinitely.

Propagation
Seed – surface sow in a cold frame in the spring. The seed usually germinates in 4 – 8 weeks at 15°c. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.

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Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers; Root; Stem.

Flowering head – cooked. Used as a globe artichoke substitute, though they are considerably smaller and even more fiddly. The fleshy centre of the plant is edible. Does this refer to the peeled stem?. Root. No more details are given.


Medicinal Actions &  Uses

Carminative; Diaphoretic; Digestive; Diuretic; Emetic; Febrifuge; Purgative.

The rhizome contains a number of essential oils, in particular the antibacterial carlina oxide. The root was formerly employed in herbal medicine as a diuretic and cold remedy.

Stemless carline thistle is seldom used in modern herbalism. The plant was at one time in great demand as an aphrodisiac, it is occasionally used nowadays in the treatment of spasms of the digestive tract, gall bladder and liver disorders, dropsy, urine retention etc. The root has also been used in treating a range of skin complaints such as acne and eczema. A decoction of the root can be used externally to cleanse wounds or as an antiseptic gargle. Some caution should be employed since in large doses the root is purgative and emetic. The root is antibiotic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, mildly diuretic, emetic in large doses, febrifuge and purgative in large doses. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Other Uses

Weather forecasting.

The dried flowers respond to the amount of humidity in the air and can be used as hygrometers. Flowers on the growing plant close at the approach of rain.

It is sometimes cultivated as a rockery plant, or dried and hung as a house decoration.

In Basque culture it was traditionally used as symbol of good fortune, fixed into the frontal door of the house.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Carlina+acaulis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlina_acaulis
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Carlina_acaulis

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