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Cnicus benedictus
File:Cnicus benedictus flor.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Cnicus
Species: C. benedictus
Binomial name
Cnicus benedictus

Cnicus benedictus (Blessed Thistle), the sole species in the genus Cnicus, is a thistle-like plant in the family Asteraceae, native to the Mediterranean region, from Portugal north to southern France and east to Turkey. It is also sometimes called Cursed Thistle.

19th century illustration

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.

Medical uses

It has sometimes been used as a herb to promote lactation. The crude drug contains about 0.2% cnicin.

It is a compontent in Bitters formulas which used to treat digestive issues.


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

See also



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