Carlina acaulis
Carlina acaulis 160907.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Carlina
C. acaulis
Binomial name
Carlina acaulis

Carlina acaulis, the stemless carline thistle, dwarf carline thistle, or silver thistle, is a perennial dicotyledonous flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to alpine regions of central and southern Europe.[1] The specific name acaulis (New Latin for "without a stem," from Latin caulis "stem" or "stalk") and common names are descriptive of the manner in which its flower head rests directly upon a basal leaf rosette.

The spiny, pinnatilobate leaves grow in a basal rosette approximately 20 cm in diameter. The flowers are produced in a large (up to 10 cm) flowerhead of silvery-white ray florets around a central disc. The disc florets are tubular and yellow-brown in colour. To protect the pollen, the head closes in wet weather, a phenomenon folklore holds to presage forthcoming rain.[2] The flowering time is between August and September.

It prefers chalky soils and dry pastures in environments from valleys up to an altitude of 2,800 m.


There are two subspecies:[1]

  • Carlina acaulis subsp. acaulis – inflorescences sessile
  • Carlina acaulis subsp. simplex – inflorescences with a short stem


The rhizome contains a number of essential oils, in particular the antibacterial carlina oxide.[3] The root was formerly employed in herbal medicine as a diuretic and cold remedy.[4]

While young, the flowerhead bud can be cooked and eaten in a similar manner to the Globe artichoke, which earned it the nickname of hunter's bread.

It is sometimes cultivated as a rockery plant, or dried and hung as a house decoration.

In Basque culture it was traditionally used as symbol of good fortune, fixed into the frontal door of the house and was given by the goddess Mari.


  1. ^ a b Flora Europaea: Carlina acaulis, retrieved 2008-01-21
  2. ^ Botany Online, Carlina acaulis, weather clock, archived from the original on 2007-06-11, retrieved 2008-01-21
  3. ^ Florkin, Marcel, Comprehensive Biochemistry, Elsevier, p. 216
  4. ^ Harborne, Jeffrey B. (30 August 2001), Chemical Dictionary of Economic Plants, Wiley, p. 12, ISBN 0-471-49226-4