Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Cirsium brevifolium
Palouse thistle

Distribution: Occurring east of the Cascades crest in eastern and southeastern Washington; eastern Washington to northeast Oregon and adjacent Idaho.

Habitat: Palouse grassland remnants, dry rocky slopes, and roadsides.

Flowers: June-October

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bumblebees, bees, butterflies, beetles, hummingbirds


Stout, short-lived perennial spreading from creeping roots, branched above or sometimes below the surface, 3-12 dm. tall.


Leaves up to 3 dm. long, coarsely toothed to pinnatifid, the lobes ovate or deltoid, usually over 7mm. wide, the margins spiny; the leaves green above, but somewhat white-woolly beneath.


Heads several, at the ends of the branches; involucre 2-3.5 mm. high, its bracts well imbricate, with glandular-glutinous dorsal ridges, the inner bracts pointed at the tip, the others with spines 3-5 mm. long; flowers all tubular, white to cream; receptacle densely bristly.


Achenes 3-5 mm. long, light brown.

Accepted Name:
Cirsium brevifolium Nutt.
Publication: Trans. Amer. Philos. Soc., n. s. 7: 421. 1841.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Cirsium palousense (Piper) Piper
Additional Resources:

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

WA Flora Checklist: Cirsium brevifolium checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Cirsium brevifolium information.

E-Flora BC: Cirsium brevifolium atlas page.

CalPhotos: Cirsium brevifolium photos.

USDA Plants: Cirsium brevifolium information.

12 photographs:
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