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Creeping thistle

 


Leaves and Stem

The leaves are lobed and have small spines on the margin.  The edges are also 'wavy' and toothed.  The leaves can vary in length between 8 and 20 cm.   The thistle can vary considerably in size.

 

The leaves run down to the spineless stems - which lack 'wings' (cf. spear thistle).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Flowers and Fruits

The flowers are pale purple / lilac in colour with a slight fragrance.  The bracts beneath the flowers are purplish green in colour and scarcely spiny (compared to the spear thistle).

 

The seeds are achenes attached to  feathery hairs (the pappus); sometimes referred to as plume thistles because of this arrangement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ecology and other notes

One of the most common thistles is Cirsium arvense.  It is a perennial (with a creeping, rhizomatous rootstock) and can reach a height of a metre or more.  The plant produces seeds with a 'plume' of feathery hairs - which aid wind dispersal.  It is found throughout the U.K with the exception of highland areas.

It is found in grassy and waste places. It is regarded as a pernicious weed as defined by the "Weeds Act of 1959"