CARLINE THISTLE

Carlina vulgaris

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

Flowers:
month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

Pappus: pappusZpossible (white)
pappus8aug pappus8sep pappus8sept pappus8oct

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8cream
inner
inner8purple
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZMany
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8spines stem8thorns
contact
contactZlowish

7th Aug 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
Grows in very small patches. Leaves are short and narrow, but very spiny and curve downwards.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
At first the head consists only of a mass of dark brown or black spines intertwined with a net of white fibres resembling cotton wool. It looks sinister and definitely untouchable.


31st July 2011, Moses Gate Country Park, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
there is no way you can touch this plant even gently without a very sharp spine penetrating skin.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
Mass of branched black spines in 'wool'. Leaves and green bracts arranged so as, from above, to present a clock-like pattern of neatly radiating short leaves arranged at precise and even angles.


7th Aug 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
The opened heads of one branched thistle. The heads look dead, this is their normal appearance.


7th Aug 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
As the heads push open through the 'cotton wool' veil, the mass of menacing dark spines are relegated to being hidden below the head.


15th July 2005, Warton Crag, Silverdale, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The head fully open displaying the straw-coloured bracts characteristic of this thistle.


7th Aug 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
The inner florets are at first also straw yellow, but purple petals start to emerge from the periphery, gradually proceeding towards the centre.


7th Aug 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
The central florets bulging upwards, surrounded by the straw-coloured bracts hiding the now faded spines and finally the neatly arranged radial green 'leaves' (which are actually yet more bracts).


7th Aug 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
The straw bracts fold over to cover the top in wet weather (not shown).


7th Aug 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
The purple disc-florets in an outer ring poised to invade the centre.


7th Aug 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
Purple disc-florets invading the centre. The now outer florets turning black.


7th Aug 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are short, narrow, but spiny and present a hyperbolic surface: they curve upwards across the width and downwards longitudinally.


9th Sept 2009, Ainsdale Sand Dune Slacks, Southport. Photo: © RWD
the dead flower, after the season is over, looking much like it did when extant.


31st July 2011, Moses Gate Country Park, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The plant may be covered in long, matted, cottony white hairs.


31st July 2011, Moses Gate Country Park, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Spines viciously sharp, multiply-branched, and emerging at several differing angles all around.


Lookee-Likees : Other, but dead, thistles. Carline Thistle looks like this when vibrant and alive.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics : (For a thistle), the straw-coloured bracts with a deeper straw-coloured centre containing a concentric ring of purple florets.

For a thistle it is quite short, no taller than about a foot. It prefers to grow on limy soils but seems equally at home on the slacks of older sand dunes.

Carline Thistle is the only member of the Carline Genus (at least so in the UK). Most, but not all, other thistles are either of Genus Cirsium or Carduus. All belong to the very extensive Daisy Family.

A POLYACETYLENE

Both Stemless Carline Thistle (Carlina aucalis) (where it was first found) and Carline Thistle contain the acetylide Carlina Oxide or Carlinoxide (furylbenzylacetylene), which is the main compound (85% - 90%) of the essential oil from the plant which has a long history of medicinal use in Europe due to its anti-microbial properties. It is active against two strains of MRSA and a number of other difficult infections. It is stomachic, carminative, diaphoretic and an antibiotic.

The flower head was once used as a humidity gauge because the bracts close in the higher humidity typical of impending rain.


  Carlina vulgaris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Asteraceae  

Distribution
family8Daisy family8dandelion family8Asteraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Carlina
Carlina
(Carline Thistle)

CARLINE THISTLE

Carlina vulgaris

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

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