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Cynara cardunculusCynara cardunculus
Artichoke Thistle, Cardoon
This huge thistle is a Mediterranean native and the ancestor of the globe artichoke, although some consider them to be the same species. Magickally, the thistle is, logically enough, good for protection and a fine symbol of strength and courage in the face of adversity.  As a thorny character, it is ruled by Mars, but this particular version has hermaphroditic flowers, so male and female aspects are combined--which perhaps accounts for why men who carry this magick herb are supposed to be better lovers. Dried thistles also make fine wands.  

Mundane Uses
Porto Spineless CardunculusThe flower buds of this plant are smaller than those of globe artichoke and some people consider cardoon to have a more delicate flavor, tasting like a cross between artichokes and celery.  Like globe artichoke, cardoon is harvested just before the buds open.  They are usually boiled. The stalks are often blanched by mounding dirt up around them or wrapping them with leaves. They are harvested and eaten raw in salads or cooked as a sort of celery.  In Italy the bitter raw stems are peeled and dipped in olive oil to eat. The young leaves, especially the midribs, can also be eaten raw or cooked; the ancient Romans favored this plant and made the leaves into salads or cooked them like spinach.  The leaves also make an anti-cholesterol tea.  The roots, which can get 6 feet long, are thick and tender and are cooked like parsnips.  The dried flowers can be used to curdle milk and make cheese, and they are also very nice for dried display, as they are humungous thistles. Top

 
How to grow artichoke thistle: Soak in room temp water overnight and then just barely cover in moist planting medium to germinate in 14-30 days at 70-75F/21-24C.  Best started 6-8 weeks before your last frost, but if your winter doesn't go below 14F/-10C, you can start them in fall and harvest in spring. Transplant out after danger of frost to full sun and well drained soil 2-3 ft/60-90cm apart. Once it's established, it is perennial to zone 6 (-10F/-23C).  Frost will kill the upper part of the plant, but the root will survive.  Heat makes this plant very bitter. It can get up to 7 ft/2m tall, although more usually it is about 4-5 ft/1.2-1.5m tall, and the leaves, which can be very spiny, can be 3 ft/.9m long. Usually flowers its second summer. It can grow aggressively in some areas.   General growing info. Top 


 

Cynara cardunculus
Porto Spineless Cardoon
15 seeds $3.50


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This named variety should germinate more uniformly and grow into a more robust plant than the unnamed types. Its spines are blunted in comparison with the usual artichoke thistle, but it still gets the nice big purplish reddish thistle-type flowers.

Uses in Witchcraft & Magick:

Protection Spells
Courage
Magick Wands
Mars Herb

2004, 2016 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission