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Blessed Thistle
shopping: two varieties
Centaurea benedicta

blessed thistle

plant overview
blessings from blessed thistle

Blessed thistle is a plant in the aster family that is native to the Mediterranean region. The herb was widely cultivated in Medieval monastery gardens after King Charlemagne was visited by an angel. According to the legend, the king was instructed to fire an arrow into the air and whichever plant it came to rest upon was the one he should give to his soldiers who had the misfortune of contracting the plague. Whether or not the king took aim at the stand of thistle where the arrow landed is not known, but this is why the plant become “blessed.”

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.
Blessed thistle
01.
A Bit of Botany
botanical information about blessed thistle

description
Blessed thistle is an annual plant in the Asteraceae family, which scarcely exceeds 2 feet in height. It has a coarse, erect, branched, and rather woolly stem.

Blessed thistle leaves are 3 to 6 inches long, more or less hairy, with margins lobed and spiny. The yellow flower heads which appear from about May to August are borne at the ends of the branches, almost hidden by the upper leaves, and are about 1 ½ inches long. Surrounding the flower heads are leathery scales, tipped with long, branching, yellowish-red spines.

The herb has a rather disagreeable odor which is lost in drying.

common names
& nomenclature

Centaurea derives from the Latin word for centaur, a half man/half horse creature from Greek mythology, and benedicta means blessed.

A general West Germanic borrowing, cf. Old Frisian bete, Middle Dutch bete, Old High German bieza, German Beete.

Also known as:
holy thistle, blessed knapweed, saint benedict thistle, spotted thistle, cardin, bitter thistle, blessed cardus, our lady's thistle, cursed thistle, and spotted cardus


02.
Where in the World
habitat and range for blessed thistle

Blessed Thistle is native to Africa, Asia and Europe but has naturalized in other areas including North and South America and also Australia.

03.
Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations when growing blessed thistle

climate
Blessed thistle prefers full to part sun, cannot grow in shade.

soil
Blessed thistle will grow in any ordinary soil, as it is widely adaptable to poor soil—but thrives in rich garden soil.

growing
Blessed thistle is propagated by seed and germinates in one to three weeks. Allow 2 feet each way when thinning out the seedlings. The seeds are usually sown in spring, but if the newly-ripened seeds are sown in September or October in sheltered situations, it is possible to have supplies of the herb green, both summer and winter.

harvesting
Harvest Blessed thistle leaves and leafy flowering tops preferably just before or during the flowering period. Use fresh or preserve by drying.

preserving
Dry the leaves, stems and flowers by spreading out in a single layer on screens in a dry area, or hang by the roots to dry. Chop into small pieces for storage in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

04.
The Rest of the Story
blessed thistle history, folklore, literature & more

the blessings of blessed thistle
Blessed thistle has been used for many years to soothe the body. It’s sometimes confused with milk thistle, but the two plants have very different properties and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. It has many uses for the body that make it an all around good herb to keep in your cupboard.

For example, blessed thistle can be used to relieve problems associated with indigestion and diarrhea. It can also help improve appetite. This is especially important if you’re dealing with an illness that causes you to lose your desire to eat. Blessed thistle can help you to increase your appetite and allow your body to get the nutrients it needs to fight your disease.

If you have a minor skin irritation, blessed thistle can help to relieve some of the problem. You can create a poultice and place it directly on the affected area. This will soothe pain and inflammation and help the condition to quiet down.

You can make a poultice by infusing blessed thistle with water and then soaking a cloth in it. Place the cloth directly on your skin. This can be used for treating sunburns, minor burns, scrapes, and even razor burn after shaving.

Blessed thistle is also thought to help clear out the liver. That makes it an excellent tonic for purifying the body and fighting the effects of toxins. It’s also, interestingly enough, been linked to reducing inflammation and cancer. However, not enough research has been done to show exactly how it does this.

Women also take blessed thistle to help release breast milk with a nursing infant. However, blessed thistle shouldn’t be taken if you are pregnant. However, if you’re nursing and are no longer pregnant, this can be an effective way to prevent mastitis.

Blessed thistle can be taken in many forms including capsules, tinctures, and teas. You can make a tea of blessed thistle by adding a teaspoon or two of the dried leaves to hot water. The tea can be consumed two or three times a day.

If you're using other forms, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for taking it. Most people have no problems with taking blessed thistle at the recommended dosage. However, taking too much can cause stomach upset and irritation.

If you’re looking for a way to soothe your skin, help breast milk come in, or treat liver problems, blessed thistle could be just the blessing you’ve been waiting for.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
you should always consult with your doctor
before making any changes to your diet!!
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