Creeping Thistle - Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle - Cirsium arvense

Herb: Creeping Thistle

Latin name: Cirsium arvense

Synonyms: Carduus arvensis, Serratula arvensis

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Creeping Thistle:

The root is tonic, diuretic, astringent, antiphlogistic and hepatic. It has been chewed as a remedy for toothache. A decoction of the roots has been used to treat worms in children. A paste of the roots, combined with an equal quantity of the root paste of Amaranthus spinosus, is used in the treatment of indigestion. The plant contains a volatile alkaloid and a glycoside called cnicin, which has emetic and emmenagogue properties. The leaves are antiphlogistic. They cause inflammation and have irritating properties

Description of the plant:


90 cm
(2 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Arable land, roadsides etc, a common weed of cultivated land.

Edible parts of Creeping Thistle:

Root of first year plants - raw or cooked. Nutritious but rather bland, they are best used in a mixture with other vegetables. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Stems - they are peeled and cooked like asparagus or rhubarb. Leaves - raw or cooked. A fairly bland flavour, but the prickles need to be removed before the leaves can be eaten - not only is this rather fiddly but very little edible leaf remains. The leaves are also used to coagulate plant milks etc.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed fluff is used as a tinder. The seed of all species of thistles yields a good oil by expression. The seed of this species contains about 22% oil.

Propagation of Creeping Thistle:

Seed - sow early spring or autumn in situ. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 8 weeks at 20C. A pernicious weed, not many people would want to invite this plant into their garden.

Cultivation of the herb:

Arable land, roadsides etc, a common weed of cultivated land.

Known hazards of Cirsium arvense:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.