Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Cirsium edule
edible thistle

Distribution: Occurring on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; British Columbia to Oregon.

Habitat: Forest openings and edge, meadows, roadsides, and other open areas at low to middle elevations in the mountains.

Flowers: July-September

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Biennial, Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bumblebees, bees, butterflies, beetles, hummingbirds


Tap-rooted biennial or short-lived perennial, flowering only once, 4-20 dm. tall, the stem succulent, thick below and tapering.


Leaves green but sparsely covered with long, soft hairs on both surfaces, moderately spiny, lobed, lanceolate to oblanceolate, up to 3 dm. long.


Heads usually borne singly at the ends of the branches; involucre 2-4 cm. high, spider-webby, its bracts loose, not much inbricate, all slender and tapering, all but the inner with short spine tips; flowers all tubular, bright pink-purple, the corolla tube 7-11 mm. long, the corolla lobes 5-10 mm. long; style exerted 3-8 mm. beyond the corolla lobes; receptacle densely bristly.

Accepted Name:
Cirsium edule Nutt.
Publication: Trans. Amer. Philos. Soc., n. s. 7: 420. 1841.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
Additional Resources:

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

WA Flora Checklist: Cirsium edule checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Cirsium edule information.

E-Flora BC: Cirsium edule atlas page.

CalPhotos: Cirsium edule photos.

USDA Plants: Cirsium edule information.

64 photographs:
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