Centuries ago this handsome thistle was introduced into western European gardens from the Mediterranean, for use as a pot-herb. The spiny white-veined leaves were believed to increase the milk output of nursing mothers.

Harvest / Pick
Almost all parts of the plant were eaten. Bryant, in his Flora Dietetica, writes: "The young shoots in the spring, cut close to the root with part of the stalk on, is one of the best boiling salads that is eaten, and surpasses the finest cabbage. They were sometimes baked in pies. The roots may be eaten like those of Salsify."

The leaves can be trimmed of their prickles then boiled. Peel the stems, soak them in water to remove the bitterness and then stew them like rhubarb. The spiny bracts that surround the broad flower-head can be cooked and eaten like globe artichokes.