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Spiny Thistle Cirsium horridulum

Phonetic Spelling
SIR-see-um hor-id-YOO-lum
Description

Bull Thistle is a native herbaceous perennial that may grow 2 to 5 feet tall and is very spiny on all parts of the plant. It is often found along the edges of salt marshes, fields, shores, savannahs, roadsides, and waste places. It is also a pasture weed in the South. It grows best in sandy soil.

It is a high-value nectar plant for bees and butterflies and the birds eat the seeds.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
var. horridulum
Tags:
#bees#hummingbirds#perennial#wildlife plant#nectar plant#specialized bees#food source#NC native#spines#spiny leaves#pollinator plant#native wildflower#larval host plant#food source fall#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#little metalmark butterfly#painted lady butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
var. horridulum
Tags:
#bees#hummingbirds#perennial#wildlife plant#nectar plant#specialized bees#food source#NC native#spines#spiny leaves#pollinator plant#native wildflower#larval host plant#food source fall#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#little metalmark butterfly#painted lady butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cirsium
    Species:
    horridulum
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern U.S.A. to Honduras and Bahamas
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , LA , MA , MD , ME , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NV , NY , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA
    Wildlife Value:
    It is the host plant for the Little Metalmark (Calephelis virginiensis), which has three to five broods from March-October, and Painted Lady Butterflies (Vanessa cardui) which have one to three flights in the east from May-October and three to four flights in south Texas from October-April. Flowers are also attractive to hummingbirds and songbirds eat the seeds. Members of the genus Cirsium support the following specialized bees: Melissodes (Heliomelissodes) desponsus, Osmia (Helicosmia) chalybea and Osmia (Helicosmia) texana.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Weed
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Dome
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    3 inch wide yellow and pink to purple disc flower heads atop multi-branched stems. Its spiny bracts may be purple or white. In the south, the blooms tend to be pinks to purples.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Pink
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Basal rosette of leaves can grow 8-24 inches long and are deeply incised and very spiny. The stem leaves are alternate and very spiny.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Hairy green stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns
    Weedy