Carlina acanthifolia is the plant-symbol of the Causses: it is a sort of big thistle which is today a threatened and protected species.
This plant is well adapted: its thorns protect itself against sheep which graze on the Causses, and it grows on the ground level. It has a crown of leaves in the middle of which is a big yellow flower.
Carlina acanthifolia was formerly dried and nailes on the doors in the villages as a decoration or a lucky charm. It was also called the shepherd’s barometer. In fact, when the heart of the flower closes, it indicates impending wet weather. The shepherds had to pay attention to it, because on the Causses the shelters are scarce and being surprised by a rainstorm in the country can be dangerous. The plant keeps this property for a long time even after its death: once dried and hung on the door, it still can open or close depending on the weather.
Formerly, the prickly leaves of the plant were used to card wool, and its heart, which has the taste of artichoke, was eaten.