- 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 Nova Scotia are Canada/creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) and Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare).
- grows across wide range, in plains, foothills, montane, and subalpine regions.
- warning: eat in moderation, some thistles are carcinogenic.
When ready to use, remove any remaining thorns from the stalk, and cook as you would with celery. I find it's best to cut the stalk into finger-long sections just before cooking it, since the exposed parts turn an unappealing brown color if left sitting. When cooked in soup, it has a taste and consistency similar to celery.