A fantastic flower.
The proud emblem of Scotland, and photographed on our Thames-side walk again.
Used in ancient times (by boiling down the entire plant) as a medicine (both internal and external) to treat 'bleeding piles'.
I thought you'd like to know that.
If you really wanted to, you could boil the flower heads and eat them. They allegedly are like a small, bland Globe Artichoke.
Of course, you could boil the roots and eat them also. These are reputedly like very bland Jerusalem Artichokes.
Both flowers and roots contain the indigestible protein INULIN.
A cautionary word of warning here. Should you be out in the countryside with a diabetic, who is in desperate need of insulin, but for some awful reason, has forgotten their supply, do NOT, under any circumstances, remember this blog, remember that Thistles contain INULIN, and that's probably close enough to INSULIN, and DO NOT therefore do a 'Ray Mears', boil down some Thistles and administer the patient the INULIN as a substitute.
INSULIN and INULIN are very different, and instead of helping your diabetic friend, you'll not be doing them any favours as you'll see below.
They probably will not thank you.
Inulin, (like artichokes) will give you incredible flatuence; flatulence that if vigorously and repeatedly endured and enjoyed?! might well lead to bleeding piles - in which case you've got a remedy (as described) right there on your plate of Thistle flowers and roots anyway.
Your choice, but I think I'll not bother...