Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.

Cirsium vulgare plant

Family - Asteraceae

Stems - To 2m tall, branching, herbaceous, erect, spiny-winged, pubescent, striate.

Cirsium vulgare stem

Leaves - Alternate, pinnately lobed to pinnatifid, sessile or with winged petioles, glabrous to scabrous above, with spines from veins, pubescent below . Leaf bases decurrent on stem. Leaf lobes ending in strong spine. Larger leaves to +35cm long, reduced gradually towards apex of stem.

Cirsium vulgare leafUpper surface of leaf.

Cirsium vulgare leafLower surface of leaf.

Inflorescence - Typically single or double flower heads terminating stems.

Involucre - To +3cm tall, 4cm wide, vase-shaped. Phyllaries imbricate, with a spine tip, arachnoid pubescent.

Cirsium vulgare involucreInvolucre.

Ray flowers - Absent.

Disk flowers - Corolla pink to rose, tubular, to 3.5cm long. Style 1, exserted beyond corolla. Achenes to 6mm long, 2mm wide. Pappus of plumose bristles.

Cirsium vulgare flowers

Flowering - June - September.

Habitat - Pastures, prairies, disturbed sites, waste ground, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - Many people, including myself, beat up on Carduus nutans as being a horrible exotic pest but Cirsium vulgare cannot be far behind. This is a very common plant. Its spiny leaves and stems are annoying at best. It is a pretty plant but doesn't make a good specimen for cultivation because of its prickles and weedy habit.
The fruits (seeds) are carried great distances by the wind with the aid of their plumose bristles.

Photographs taken in Noel, MO., 8-14-03.