Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Cirsium arvense
Canadian thistle, creepiing thistle

Distribution: Widely distributed on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east across North America to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: Roadsides, fields, meadows, pastures, prairies, grasslands, wastelots, and other disturbed areas at low to middle elevations.

Flowers: May-October

Origin: Introduced from Eurasia

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bumblebees, bees, butterflies, beetles, wasps, hummingbirds


Dioecious, mostly glabrous perennial from deep rhizomes, 3-15 dm. tall.


Leaves lanceolate or oblong, up to 2 dm. long, reduced upward, pinnatifid or occasionally merely lobed or toothed, weakly spiny.


Heads several; involucres 1-2 cm. high, the outer bracts tipped with weak, short spines; pappus of the pistillate heads longer than the corollas, that of the staminate heads shorter than the corollas; flowers pink-purple or occasionally white.


Achenes glabrous, about 4 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.
Publication: Fl. Carniol. ed. 2. 2: 126. 1772.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. var. arvense [HC]
Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. var. horridum Wimm. & Grab. [HC]
Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. var. mite Wimm. & Grab.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Cirsium arvense in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Cirsium arvense checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Cirsium arvense information.

E-Flora BC: Cirsium arvense atlas page.

CalPhotos: Cirsium arvense photos.

USDA Plants: Cirsium arvense information.

66 photographs:
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