Woolen thistle

Woolen thistle


The woolen thistle has the scientific name of “Dipsacus fullonum” and belongs to the Dipsacaceae family.

The flowering period, in most cases, is between June and August.

The plants of the woolen thistle are characterized by developing a shrub that has a typically rounded shape.

The woolen thistle it is characterized by being a perennial herbaceous plant and can reach 1.2 meters in height.

During the autumn season, this plant has the particular characteristic of being able to take on a pink purple sand color.

These are plants that are not always evergreen, as they lose their leaves over the course of a few months of the year.

It is a plant that is extremely widespread throughout the Italian territory, from the Mediterranean to the subalpine area; moreover, it develops spontaneously at the edge of ditches, in uncultivated places, among ruins and in scrublands.


As for the cultivation of this plant, it is important to underline how it prefers bright places, with direct sunlight and must always be grown in open spaces.

It is a plant that can withstand, without any kind of problem, even extremely low minimum temperatures, especially when they drop below zero.

The watering operation must be performed sporadically: in most cases, once every twenty days is enough, taking care to leave the soil completely dry before repeating watering.

When carrying out this operation, it is important to avoid overdoing the water released, but it is equally essential to be able to wet the soil correctly and deeply.

The woolen thistle it must be grown in a particularly soft and light soil, which must also be well drained.

Active principles

Inside the woolen thistle plant we can find the scabioside glycoside, various tannic substances, as well as potassium salts.


This particular plant owes its name to an ancient and interesting application in fact, its flower heads, due to the particular shape and resistance, were frequently used to card wool, comb and brush the hair of the fabrics.

As for the real beneficial properties, we must underline how the woolen thistle is characterized by having general purifying virtues.

The root, which has a particular bitter taste, makes it possible to simplify all those processes inherent to the digestive system, but also manages to perform a stimulating action on sweating and diuresis, thus favoring the removal of waste.

The woolen thistle proves to be particularly useful in all cases of gout, arthritis and rheumatism, but also manages to be particularly effective for those with dropsy and obese.

In addition, the woolen thistle plays an important beneficial action to counteract the diseases that affect the skin (especially dermatosis, furunculosis, acne) which are the consequence of a malfunction of the digestive and excretory system.

An excellent alternative is represented by the fact that the roots of the woolen thistle can usefully exploit the leaves, which have the same beneficial activity.


As for the internal use, the root of the woolen thistle is essentially used, in order to increase diuresis and at the same time carry out an important purifying action on the whole organism.

In these cases, it is very useful to know how to prepare a good decoction, which can be obtained by mixing two grams of wool thistle with 100 ml of water: the intake must take place in very limited doses such as a cup of decoction in the morning, to be taken strictly fasting.

As for the external use, the part that is most exploited of this plant is represented by the leaves.

An excellent concentrated decoction can be prepared with the leaves of the woolen thistle, using about 30-40 grams of dry leaves crushed in a liter of water. This mixture is then left to boil for at least half an hour and, when it reaches room temperature, it can be filtered through gauze.

The decoction can also be skilfully used to make washes or packs to counter eczema and psoriasis.

Woolen thistle: Curiosities

The thistle of the wool makers has also been exploited in the processing of wool, since ancient times, given that testimonies of the ancient Egyptians have come down to us.

In fact, it also appears from the Capitulars of Charlemagne that the woolen thistle was grown in the vegetable gardens, close to other crops for "familia".

The name of the genus to which this plant belongs, or Dipsacus, derives from the Greek language and means “thirst”: in practice, we wanted to refer to the basin that the leaves create when it rains.

The name fullonum, on the other hand, derives from the presence of the inflorescence, which indicates the place where in the Middle Ages the finishing of fabrics was performed, an ancient operation called “fullonica”.

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