Evert's or Elk Thistle

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Evert's or Elk Thistle - photo by A.Brousseau
Photo by A.Brousseau

(Cirsium scariosum - Aster Family)

Edible value: Evert's Thistle is named for Truman Everts who was among the 1870 party exploring Yellowstone Park. He actually owes his life to thistle. During the exploration he became separated from his companions, was thrown by his horse, and broke his spectacles. He was unable to hunt game as he was extremely nearsighted without his glasses and he had no horse. Because he was starving to death, he began eating thistle roots, which he existed on until he was rescued a month later.

The tender spring stems of this thistle have a sweet delicate taste. They can be eaten raw once the spiny covering has been peeled away. Flathead Indians liked the thistle so much that they imposed a taboo to prevent people from over picking this plant.

Habitat: The Evert's Thistle likes moist to wet soul and is usually found in open meadows in valleys and higher elevations up to 8,000 feet.

Description: This thistle generally stands above other vegetation in meadows. It stands up to 4 ft. in height and has white to purple flowers clustered at the top of the plant. The entire plant, including the toothed leaves, is covered with spines. The stem of this thistle is almost as thick at the top as it is at the bottom.

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