Cnicus benedictus

Botanical Name : Cnicus benedictus
Family : Asteraceae – Aster family
Genus : Cnicus L. – cnicus
Species: Cnicus benedictus L. – blessed thistle
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division : Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Asterales

Common Names ;Blessed Thistle,St. Blessed thistle, Holy thistle or Spotted thistle

Habitat :Cnicus benedictus is  native to the Mediterranean region, from Portugal north to southern France and east to Iran,S. Europe to W. Asia. An infrequent casual in Britain. Dry sunny places in arable, stony and waste ground.  It is known in other parts of the world, including parts of North America, as an introduced species and often a noxious weed.

Description:
Cnicus benedictus is an annual plant growing to 60 cm tall, with leathery, hairy leaves up to 30 cm long and 8 cm broad, with small spines on the margins. The flowers are yellow, produced in a dense flowerhead (capitulum) 3-4 cm diameter, surrounded by numerous spiny basal bracts.

The related genus Notobasis is included in Cnicus by some botanists; it differs in slender, much spinier leaves, and purple flowers.

 

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It is hardy to zone 8. It is in flower from May to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry or moist soil.

Cultivation :
Easily grown in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a dry soil and a sunny position. Grows best in a well manured soil. A very ornamental plant, it is often cultivated in Europe as a medicinal herb and for its oil yielding seed.

Propagation:
Seed – sow in situ in the spring or early autumn. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 6 weeks at 10°c

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent;  Bitter;  Cholagogue;  Contraceptive;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Emmenagogue;  Galactogogue;  Homeopathy;  Stimulant;
Stomachic;  Tonic;  VD.
Blessed thistle has been used as a treatment for liver disorders, as well as menstrual problems.  It seems to detoxify the liver.  In many European countries blessed thistle tablets are prescribed along with acetaminophen or aspirin to counterbalance the potential liver damage these drugs can cause. Many women take blessed thistle to regulate their periods.  It seems to stimulate the appetite and many herbalists prescribe it to their anorexic patients.  It is often combined with other herbs that are beneficial to the liver, such as milk thistle, artichoke or red clover.  The leaves are considered one of the best herbs for increasing mother’s milk.  Blessed thistle is antibiotic, destroying staph and other infections, although it has not proved very effective against harmful intestinal bacteria.  Externally used as a healing balm for wounds and ulcers.  Combines well with turtlehead and cola for anorexia and with meadowsweet, agrimony and cinquefoil for diarrhea.

Other Uses:
Oil.

A good quality oil is obtained from the seed. It has been used in emergencies when other oils were not available.

Known Hazards :  May cause allergic reaction if sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Possible eye irritation. Excess of 5g per cup of tea may cause stomach irritation and vomiting. Possible cross-reactivity with mugwort and echinacea (also bitter weed, blanket flower, chrysanthemum, colt’s foot, dandelion and marigold. Increases stomach acid secretion so caution needed with gastric ulcers and heartburn. Possible increase in bleeding – care needed with anticoagulants or blood thining agents

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/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cnicus+benedictus
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CNBE
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cnicus
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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