Creeping Thistle

March 10th, 2012

Latin:  Cirsium arvense

Irish:  Feochadán reatha


This is widely distributed native perennial with erect stems growing to a height of about 1.0m and a creeping, spreading rootstock.

Specimens can be found in the practice ground, the Builder’s Paddock, the Avenue Field and many other areas of undisturbed grassland around the course.


It has deeply pinnate, grey-green leaves that have toothed lobes and margins that are very prickly.  They produce pink-mauve flowers from late June to September.

The species is abundant throughout Ireland occurring on roadsides, waste-ground, grassland and arable land. Like all of the thistles, the seeds are attached to a pappus of long feathery hairs (“thistle down”) which aids wide dispersal.  As a result, it can be very invasive and, even though not enforced, it is defined as a “Noxious Weed” and a landowner on whose land it grows may be prosecuted.

The root can be eaten but it is 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 heroic and potentially embarrassing levels of flatulence.  It’s medicinal reputation is sparse but the root can be chewed as a remedy for toothache.



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