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Dwarf thistle, Cirsium acaulon

Dwarf thistle, Cirsium acaulon

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Dwarf thistle, Cirsium acaulon

Dwarf thistle, Cirsium acaulon (Carduus acaulis). Handcoloured copperplate engraving by James Sowerby from James Smiths English Botany, London, 1794

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Media ID 23202646

© Florilegius/Mary Evans

Acaulis Carduus Cirsium Dwarf Herb Herbal Sowerby Thistle Smith


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This exquisite hand-colored copperplate engraving showcases the delicate beauty of the Dwarf Thistle, Cirsium acaulon (previously known as Carduus acaulis or Cirsium acaule), a native herbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. The intricate details of its prickly leaves and vibrant purple flower heads are masterfully captured in this botanical illustration, created by the skilled hand of James Sowerby for James Smith's English Botany, published in London in 1794. The Dwarf Thistle, also known as the Prickly Thistle or the Spotted Thistle, is a low-growing plant that thrives in grasslands and meadows, particularly in Europe and Asia. Its distinctive features include its spiny leaves, which are covered in small, white hairs that give them a soft, velvety texture, and its purple flower heads, which bloom in the late summer and attract various pollinators. The Dwarf Thistle has a rich history in herbal medicine, as its leaves and roots have been used for various medicinal purposes, including the treatment of wounds, inflammation, and digestive issues. The plant's bitter taste and milky sap have also been used as a natural deterrent against insects and pests. This botanical illustration not only serves as a stunning representation of the Dwarf Thistle's unique characteristics but also highlights the importance of documenting and preserving the natural world through art and science. The intricate details and vibrant colors captured in this copperplate engraving are a testament to the dedication and skill of James Sowerby and the team at James Smith's English Botany, who meticulously documented and illustrated thousands of plant species during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

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