Centaurea solstitalis

Botanical Name : Centaurea solstitalis
Family:    Asteraceae
Tribe:    Cynareae
Genus:    Centaurea
Species:C. solstitialis
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Asterales

Synonym: St. Barnaby’s Thistle.

Common Names: yellow star-thistle, golden starthistle, yellow cockspur and St. Barnaby’s thistle (or Barnaby thistle)

Habitat : Centaurea solstitalis is native to the Mediterranean Basin region. It grows on cultivated land and waste ground.

Description:
Centaurea solstitalis forms a scrubby bush, 18 inches to 2 feet high, with the lower part of the stems very stiff, almost woody, the branches when young very soft, with broad wings, decurrent from the short, strap-shaped leaves. The lower leaves are deeply cut into, the upper ones narrow and with entire margins. The spines of the flower-heads are very long, 1/2 inch to 1 inch in length, pale yellow. The whole plant is hoary.
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This plant obtains its name from being supposed to flower about St. Barnabas’ Day, June 11 (old style).

During the vegetative stage if forms a rosette of non-spiny leaves (5–20 cm diameter). As the summer approaches, it produces a flowering stem (1 m) which will produce numerous spinous capitula containing numerous (10-50) yellow flowers. Flowers within capitula are pollinated by insects and each capitula will produce a mix of (10-50) pappus and non-pappus seeds. It is an annual semelparous species, and will die after reproduction is completed, normally by the end of the summer.
Cultivation:
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a sunny position. Tolerates dry, low fertility and alkaline soils. A good bee and butterfly plant the flowers are rich in nectar. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow April in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown in situ in the spring, and an autumn swing in situ might also be worth trying.

Edible Uses: The plant is eaten as a vegetable. The part used is not specified.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: Herb, seeds, root

It has been used for the same purposes as the Common Star Thistle. Many species of Centaurea grow wild in Palestine, some of formidable size. Canon Tristram mentions some in Galilee through which it was impossible to make way till the plants had been beaten down. ‘Thistle’ mentioned several times in the Bible refers to some member of this family (Centaurea), probably C. Calcitrapa, which is a Palestinian weed.

The powdered seed is used as a remedy for stone. The powdered root is said to be a cure for fistula and gravel.

Known Hazards: There is a report that the plant causes brain lesions and a nervous syndrome called ‘chewing disease’ in horses.

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaurea_solstitialis
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/t/thistl11.html#com

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Centaurea+solstitialis

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