Scolymus hispanicus L. - Golden thistle, Spanish oyster plant

Taxonomic position.

Family: Asteraceae R. Br.; Genus: Scolymus L.

Morphology and biology.

This species is an annual or biannual strongly prickly plant from 15 up to 60 cm in height. The entire plant is covered with a gossamer pubescence by sinuate hairs and diffuse spines. Stems are erect; almost from the base they are strongly branching. Radical leaves die off early; there are many stem leaves that are oblong-lanceolate or oblong-ovate. The plate of the sheet can be pinnatipartite or sinuato-dentate, shares and denticles end in strong prickles. The base of the sheet comes to stem as prickly wings, narrowed to lower part. Calathide heads are numerous, situated in bosoms of upper and middle leaves, and also on tops of branches. Every calathide head is covered by three leaves; sheathing and two leaves that are laterally placed. Involucre is 12-16 mm long. Flowers are yellow. Achenes are 2-4 mm long, with short crown and two long bristles on the top. Blossoms in July, fructifies in October. It is entomophilous and zoochore.


The general distribution includes: Southern Europe (northern border of distribution reaches Hungary and Romania), Northern Africa, Forward Asia, Canary Islands. In the territory of the former USSR the area includes: the European part-the Lower Don (peninsula Tamansky), Crimea (a southern part); Caucasus-the Western Transcaucasia (sea coast), East Transcaucasia (steppe Muganskaja).


It grows on sand and shingles of sea coasts, in river valleys and is frequently a weed along roads and near dwellings.

Use and economic value.

It is used as a food; coarse roots are used as vegetable.

Reference citations:

Bobrov, E.G. & N.N. Tsvelev, ed. 1939. Flora USSR. V. 29. Moscow-Leningrad: Publishing House of Acad. Science. 12-13 p. (In Russian)
Cherepanov S.K. 1995. Plantae Vasculares Rossicae et Civitatum Collimitanearum (in limics USSR olim)[List of Vascular Plants of Russia]. St. Petersburg: Mir I Semia. 990 pp. (In Russian)
Galushko, A.I. 1980. Flora of Northern Caucasia. V. 3. Rostov: Publishing House of Rostov State University. 238 p. (In Russian)
Grossheim, A.A. 1948. Manual of plants of Caucasus. Leningrad. 502 p. (In Russian)
Kolakovsky, A.A. 1982. Flora of Abkhazia. V. 2. Tbilisi: Metsniereba. 97-98 p. (In Russian)
Wulf E.V., Maleeva O.F. 1969. World resources of useful plants. Leningrad: Nauka. 428 p. (In Russian)

© Smekalova T.N.


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