What is the plant
Scolymus hispanicus, the common golden thistle or Spanish oyster thistle, is a flowering plant in the genus Scolymus in the family Asteraceae, native to southern and western Europe, north to northwestern France.
It is a herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant growing to 80 cm tall, with spiny stems and leaves. The flowerheads are bright yellow to orange-yellow, 2–3 cm diameter. Since at least the time of Theophrastus in ancient Greece, this plant has been known for medicinal and culinary uses. Although it has been cultivated at times, currently most of the plant which is consumed comes from harvesting wild plants. It is very popular in almost every province of Spain, where it is usually eaten in stews during spring. It is also used in salads and soups, and it is served with scrambled eggs in Extremadura and Andalusia, Spain, where it is called tagarnina. In the sixteenth century in Salamanca, the washed young plants used to be eaten with their root, either raw or in stews with meat.
In parts of southern Italy, the leaves are only gathered during Holy Week, after which they are used to bake a meat pie to be eaten on Easter.
This plant is useful.
How to get rid of:
Small infestations of Golden Thistle can be managed by manual removal (grubbing) of the plant, especially the tuber . Ploughing can be effective if carried out several times. Care needs to be taken to clean all machinery used as tubers can 'hitch hike' and infest clean sites.
Slashing or mowing is not effective as above ground vegetation will re-grow from the tuber .
Research indicates that goats may be a useful tool for thistle management in grazing pasture. Goats will consume the flowering stems of some thistle species when sheep are unable. However, this process has not been tested specifically for Golden Thistle .
When the infestation is larger, or in difficult terrain, herbicide can be effective if used within a two year program when the plant is in the rosette stage .
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