Herbs of the Holyland by Nissim Krispil

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Syrian thistle
Common name:

Syrian thistle

Synonym name:

Hebrew name:

ברקן סורי

Scientific name:

Notobasis syriaca


Asteraceae (Composte)

Arabic name:

ח'ורפש אל-חמיר

annual plant
0.8-1.8 m
Flowering color:
Flowering period:
Growing areas:
Holy thistle is very common in almost all parts of the country. Grows in abandoned places, gutters, roadsides and near barns.


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Syrian thistle is an annual thorny weed, very common in Israel. At the beginning of growth, The Syrian thistle and the holy thistle are very much alike and it is difficult to distinguish between them. When they bloom the Syrian thistle flower scalp is decorated with thorns that are not equal in size and shape, and look like lightning hence its Hebrew name 'Barkan'.
The Syrian thistle is also used in the Israeli Arabs folk medicine. Eating the stems and blossoms increases the appetite, stimulates the digestive system and heels liver and intestines diseases. Decoction of the plant parts is highly effective for high blood pressure, kidney stones, and urinary tract obstruction and digestive problems.
For treating liver and intestine diseases and more
 Pick some holy thistle stalks, while they are still green young and fresh. Scrap the prickly leaves with a knife, cut the stalks lengthwise, into slices, and cook them in water. The Quantity: 200g peeled stalks in a liter of water. The Duration of boiling is half an hour. Drain the decoction, cool it and drink 5-4 cups a day. 
You may also eat peeled stems soaked in salt water.

Young thistle leaves and stems are eatable; you remove the upper shell from the young tender stems and eat them when they're wet. 

Many biblical plants scholars tend to identify the thorns and briers appear in the Bible with the Syrian thistle. "And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers," (Judges 8,16).
 Holy thistle is called in Arabic " Horfash el-hamir" which means thistle of the donkeys,  because they love to eat it.