Cirsium arvense

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Cirsium arvense
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Plant Info
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Scientific classification
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Asterales
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Family: Asteraceae
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Genus: Cirsium
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Species: C. arvense
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Binomial name
Cirsium arvense
(L.) Scop.
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Type Species

Cirsium arvense, also known as the California Thistle, Canada Thistle, Corn Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Cursed Thistle, Green Thistle, Hard Thistle, Perennial Thistle, Prickly Thistle, Small-flowered Thistle, and Way Thistle, is a very serious invasive species of the genus Cirsium, native throughout Europe, Asia and northern Africa. This plant is cited as a noxious weed in several countries; for example Brazil and the United States. It is designated an "injurious weed" under the UK Weeds Act 1959[1].

It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant, forming an extensive underground root system that sends up numerous erect stems each spring, reaching 1-2 m tall; the stems often lie partly flat by summer but can stay erect if supported by other vegetation. The leaves are very spiny, lobed, up to 15-20 cm long and 2-3 cm broad (smaller on the upper part of the flower stem). The inflorescence is 1-2 cm diameter, pink-purple, with all the florets of similar form (no division into disc and ray florets). The seeds are 4-5 mm long, with a downy pappus which assists in wind dispersal.

Creeping Thistle is used as a food plant by the Engrailed, a species of moth.

Several other names have been applied to the species, including Field Thistle, and the very confusing "Canada Thistle" (it is not a native of Canada, being an introduction there).


Cirsium species, are, for the most part, edible; however, the leaves are considered bitter and therefore rendered inedible; the taproot is considered the most nutritious. In Scotland (especially Fife) they are considered a delicacy, albeit a somewhat unusual one.

External links

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