Cirsium vulgare (Bull Thistle)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||sun; dry fields, roadsides, railroads, waste areas, disturbed soils|
|Bloom season:||June - October|
|Plant height:||2 to 6 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Leaves and stem:
Leaves are 3 to 6 inches long and up to 2 inches wide, alternately attached, hairy on the upper surface and around the edges, and woolly on the underside. Each leaf has 3 or more narrow lobes, with a ½-inch long sharp, yellowish spine at the tip of each lobe.
Bull Thistle is on the noxious weed list for Minnesota and is one of the spiniest thistles. It resembles Plumeless Thistle (Carduus acanthoides), also a noxious weed, but its flowers are typically 1 inch across or less, leaves are mostly hairless on the upper surface, and is overall even spinier than Bull Thistle. The non-native thistles are all sharply spiny where the natives either have few or no spines, or have soft spines. The bracts are unique for most thistle species and are another identifying characteristic.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- full size plant, about 5 feet tall
- more plants
- spring rosette
- more plants
- Bull Thistle with unusual white flowers
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at various locations across Minnesota.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?