- roots of unbolted young plants in autumn are edible raw but may cause gas.
- roots are best when boiled or roasted.
- roots contains the starch inulin, which breaks down into a sugar when cooked.
- cooked roots can be dried and ground to flour.
- stems and leaves are edible raw, after peeling to remove prickles.
- immature flowerheads are edible raw, but best when steamed.
- varieties in the Pacific Northwest are
Canada/Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense),
Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare),
Indian thistle (Cirsium brevistylum),
Hooker's thistle (Cirsium hookerianum) and
Leafy thistle (Cirsium foliosum).
- grows across wide range, in plains, foothills, montane, and subalpine regions.
- warning: eat in moderation, some thistles are carcinogenic.