The edible thistle has had a convoluted nomenclatural history. The labels on the type collection (BM) bear the following information: “Circium [sic] * edule” and “R. Mountains & plains of Columbia.” When Nuttall published the name, he listed the range as “The plains of Oregon and the Blue Mountains.” The type specimen closely resembles plants from western Oregon, but plants of Cirsium edule are not known to occur in the Blue Mountains. J. T. Howell (1943) noted that the name C. edule had long been in use for two distinctly different species, one with a long, slender corolla tube, short lobes, and a barely exserted style and the other with a stouter corolla with a shorter tube, longer lobes, and a long-exserted style. He applied the name C. edule to the species with the slender corolla, and took up the name C. macounii for the second species. After examining the type of C. edule, A. Cronquist (1953) pointed out that Howell had erred in applying that name to the short-styled species, and described the latter as C. brevistylum. Cronquist expressed doubt as to the collection locality of the type of C. edule, focusing on the Blue Mountains and not noting the duality of the location data on the specimen and in Nuttall’s publication. It is likely that the plants Nuttall observed in the Blue Mountains were C. brevistylum.