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Cirsium pumilum is often confused with:
Cirsium muticum Cirsium muticum
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Verbena canadensis Verbena canadensis
Viola sororia Viola papilionacea
Viola canadensis Viola canadensis

Pasture Thistle Cirsium pumilum

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Carduus pumilus
  • Cirsium odoratum
Phonetic Spelling
SIR-see-um POO-mil-um
Description

Pasture Thistle is a native biennial or monocarpic perennial in the aster family found from Maine south to SC. It is found in the Piedmont of NC in pastures, lawns, meadows, woodlands and sandy floodplains. It has a long taproot and can be hard to get rid of if so desired. The stems and leaves have prickles so wear gloves. The disc flowers bloom in purple, pink, or white and attract butterflies, bees and birds. The plant lives 1-2 years, then blooms, sets seed and dies. 

This plant could be used in a naturalized area for pollinators and birds to enjoy. The flowers are actually showy and fragrant. It is drought tolerant and prefers full sun and dry, well-drained soils.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. hillii
Tags:
#bees#purple#white#white flowers#wildlife plant#purple flowers#pink flowers#nectar plant#specialized bees#NC native#overgrows#farmlands#scarlet flowers#countryside#prickly#naturalized area#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. hillii
Tags:
#bees#purple#white#white flowers#wildlife plant#purple flowers#pink flowers#nectar plant#specialized bees#NC native#overgrows#farmlands#scarlet flowers#countryside#prickly#naturalized area#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cirsium
    Species:
    pumilum
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Biennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern U.S.A
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Cirsium support the following specialized bees: Melissodes (Heliomelissodes) desponsus, Osmia (Helicosmia) chalybea and Osmia (Helicosmia) texana. Thistles attract butteflies and birds. Thistle seed is a favorite of finches.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Wildflower
    Appendage:
    Prickles
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    Small seeds with white silky hairs that are carried by the wind.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Crown
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Dense inflorescent 2-3 inches across with 20-50 disc florets and no petals. Fragrant
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are lobed with wavy edges, oblong to elliptic, up to 6 to 8 inches long. Undersides of leaves are densely woolly with a whitish appearance. Leaf edges have short, dense spines.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Stout stems with spines and densely wooly.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Dry Soil
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns