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Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Distribution in Egypt

Sinai.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Annuals, to 60 cm. Stems often spreading or prostrate, usually branched throughout, usually reddish, ± loosely tomentose. Leaves mostly cauline, sessile and often short-decurrent or proximal tapering to winged petioles, blades lanceolate to oblanceolate, 6–25 cm, margins coarsely dentate or pinnately lobed, lobes and teeth armed with short, weak spines, faces sparsely to densely hairy with jointed multicellular hairs and slender cobwebby hairs, resin-gland-dotted. Heads disciform, borne singly, sessile, each subtended by involucre-like cluster of leaf-like bracts. Involucres ± spheric, 20–40 mm. Phyllaries in several series, tightly overlapping, outer ovate with tightly appressed bases and spreading spine tips, inner lanceolate, tipped by pinnately divided spines more than 5 mm. Florets many; corollas yellow, those of sterile florets linear, 3-lobed, not exceeding disc corollas, very slender, those of disc florets 19–24 mm. Cypselae cylindric, slightly curved, 8–11 mm, with 20 prominent ribs, tipped by a 10-dentate rim, glabrous, attachment scars lateral; pappi of 2 series of awns, outer 9–10 mm, smooth or ± roughened, inner 2–5 mm, roughened with short spreading hairs. 2n = 22.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Cnicus benedictus Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 826. 1753
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Ecology

Habitat

Rocky hillsides.

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Associations

Foodplant / internal feeder
larva of Acanthiophilus helianthi feeds within capitulum of Cnicus benedictus

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
Golovinomyces cichoracearum parasitises live Cnicus benedictus

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Annual.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Centaurea benedicta

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Centaurea benedicta

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Wikipedia

Cnicus

"Blessed thistle" redirects here. For "blessed milk thistle", see Silybum marianum.

Cnicus benedictus (St. Benedict's thistle, blessed thistle, holy thistle or spotted thistle), is a thistle-like plant in the family Asteraceae, native to the Mediterranean region, from Portugal north to southern France and east to Iran. It is known in other parts of the world, including parts of North America, as an introduced species and often a noxious weed. It is the sole species in the monotypic genus Cnicus.

Growth[edit]

It is an annual plant growing to 60 cm tall, with leathery, hairy leaves up to 30 cm long and 8 cm broad, with small spines on the margins. The flowers are yellow, produced in a dense flowerhead (capitulum) 3–4 cm diameter, surrounded by numerous spiny basal bracts.

The related genus Notobasis is included in Cnicus by some botanists; it differs in slender, much spinier leaves, and purple flowers.

Medicinal uses[edit]

It has sometimes been used as a galactogogue to promote lactation. The crude extracts contain about 0.2% cnicin. It is recommended for use by public health nurses in Ontario, Canada, as well as by the Canadian Breastfeeding Foundation[2] along with fenugreek to increase lactation in nursing mothers. It is also a component in some bitters formulas.

The roots of the blessed thistle is used by Algerian locals to heal burns and wounds. When root powder mixture was added to rat wounds during a study, the powder proved more effective in healing the wounds than in natural time.[3]

Edibility[edit]

These thistles are not considered edible, unlike Cirsium, Arctium and Onopordum species; the leaves are considered unpalatable if not bitter.

19th century illustration

References[edit]

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Notes

Comments

Centaurea benedicta is native to the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor. F. K. Kupicha (1975) recognized two varieties of Cnicus benedictus: var. benedictus and var. kotschyi Boissier. A combination apparently has not been made for var. kotschyi in Centaurea. I have not determined whether one or both races are represented in North American plants of Centaurea benedicta.

Blessed thistle is cultivated in many areas of the world as a medicinal herb. The leaves, stems, and flowers are all used in herbal preparations for digestive and liver ailments.

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