Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Cirsium vulgare
bull thistle, common thistle

Distribution: Widely distributed on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; British Columbia to California, east to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: Roadsides, fields, forest edge, ditches, balds, prairies, wastelots, and other disturbed, open areas.

Flowers: June-September

Origin: Introduced from Eurasia

Growth Duration: Biennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bumblebees, bees, butterflies, beetles, hummingbirds


Stout biennial, 3-15 dm. tall, the stem conspicuously spiny-winged from the bases of the leaves and covered with stiff, blunt hairs.


Leaves pinnatifid, the largest again toothed or lobed; leaves covered with short, pointed hairs above and thinly white-woolly below.


Heads several; involucre 2.5-4 cm. high, all its bracts spine-tipped; flowers all ligulate, purple or rarely white.


Achenes less than 4 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.
Publication: Fl. Napol. 5: 209. 1835.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Carduus vulgare Savi
Additional Resources:

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

WA Flora Checklist: Cirsium vulgare checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Cirsium vulgare information.

E-Flora BC: Cirsium vulgare atlas page.

CalPhotos: Cirsium vulgare photos.

USDA Plants: Cirsium vulgare information.

52 photographs:
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