Globe thistle

Globe thistle

Globe thistle

Specification & Spread

Globe thistle fruits — fructus echinopsis
Globe thistle — echinops ritro l. ( = e. Ruthenicus bieb.)
Roundheaded globe thistle — echinops sphaerocephalus l.
Composite family – asteraceae (compositae)
Other names: black thistle.

Globe thistles are rhizomatous perennial herbaceous plants up to 2 m tall. The stem in the upper part is branchy and white-web-felt.

The leaves are alternate, broadly lanceolate, deeply pinnately-parted, up to 25 cm long and up to 6 cm wide, prickly and prickly-toothed along the edge, only the lowest ones are with petioles. The rest leaves are sessile with an amplexicaul base. Upper globe thistle leaves are green and bare. In the bottom it is white-web-felt. Roundheaded globe thistle leaves on both sides are rough-iron-pubescent and sticky.

The single-flowered calathidium is collected in dense spherical capitate 4-6 cm in diameter, located singly at the tops of the stem and branches. The calathidium involuce are pluriseriate, consisting of three types of folioles: the outer folioles are bristle-shaped, several times shorter than the inner ones. The middle ones are phylloid, almost equal to the outer ones. The inner ones are lanceolate, approximately equal in length to the corolla tube. Globe thistle inner folioles are bluish, and roundheaded globe thistle folioles are light blue.

The flowers are all tubular. The calyx in the form of a turf. The corolla of globe thistle is blue. Roundheaded globe thistle is white.
The fruit is a pubescent cylindrical achene, growing inside the involucel, 7–9 mm long, about 2 mm wide and with a cupped tuft.
It blooms in June – August, the fruits ripen in August – September.

Spreading. Globe thistle is spread in the steppe regions of the European part of Russia, in the southern Urals, in the southern regions of Western Siberia and Kazakhstan.

Habitat. It grows in mixed grass steppes, on open gravelly and rocky slopes. With medicinal purposes it is cultivated in small areas in specialized farms. It is usually cultivated as biennial plants.


The fruits contain :

  • 1-2% of quinoline alkaloids, of which echinopsin is the main.

In echinopsin the raw materials should be at least 1%.

In addition to alkaloids, mordovnik fruits contain:

  • 26-28% of fatty oil.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The infructescence with ripe fruits are manually cut off in late autumn with full ripeness of the fruit. Strong gloves should be used, since the tuft setae are hard and rather spiky. On the plantations, cleaning is carried out with special machines.

Drying. The harvested infructescences are dried in a dryer at a temperature of 60-80 ºС or scattered raw materials on a tarp, in sheds or in the air (in a place sheltered from the wind). The great difficulties are caused by the separation of the seeds from the wrappers of the baskets. It is very difficult to carry out this operation manually. Therefore a special machine for threshing raw globe thistle was developed.

External signs of raw materials

The achenes are oblong-obovate, 7–9 mm long. In the upper part it is about 2 mm wide, pubescent with adherent brown hairs (the hairs are strongly irritate the skin while working with raw materials).

Properties and application

On the physiological action echinopsin is similar to strychnine.


  • increases reflex excitability of the spinal cord,
  • tones the skeletal muscles,
  • has a general tonic effect.

It is relatively low toxic and has a breadth of therapeutic action.

Application of globe thistle:

  • as a tonic,
  • improving the conduction of nerve impulses.
  • with lesions of the peripheral and central parts of the central nervous system,
  • with peripheral paralysis of the facial nerve, plexitis, myopathy,
  • as well as to eliminate the effects of radiation injury,
  • in asthenic conditions with symptoms of vascular dystonia,
  • with hypotension and optic nerve atrophy.

Currently, the preparation is excluded from the State Register, as there are other, more effective means by which echinopsin is inferior in some indicators.


  • Children under 12 years old;
  • pregnancy and breastfeeding;
  • angina pectoris;
  • hypertension III degree;
  • fresh lesion of the optic nerve.