Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.


» spear thistle, bull thistle

Morphology / Appearance

Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.

Character recognition:

Plant: is an annual or biennial, herbaceous plant, up to 2 m height;
Root: root systems;
Stem: is winged, with numerous longitudinal spine-tipped wings along its full length;
Leaves: are 7.6 - 30.5 cm long, lance-shaped and very hairy; are stoutly spined, grey-green, deeply lobed; the basal leaves up to 15 – 25 cm long, with smaller leaves on the upper part of the flower stem; the leaf lobes are spear-shaped
Flowers: are hermaphrodite; the inflorescence is 2.5 – 5 cm diameter, pink-purple;
Fruits: the seeds are 5 mm long, with a downy pappus, which assists in wind dispersal.

Confusion: [...]

Cirsium vulgare
© 2012. Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.

Copyright photo © C. Simion ::: 2012 - IASI ::: Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.

Ecology / Plant spreading

Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.

Bloom time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Flower color: purple
Plant type: biennial
Light: Sun
Propagation Material: Seeds

Bull thistle is native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. It is thought to have been introduced to the eastern United States.

Spear Thistle is often a ruderal species, colonising bare disturbed ground, but also persists well on heavily grazed land as it is unpalatable to most grazing animals [ 1 ]. Plants can form dense thickets, displacing other vegetation. 


Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.

Cultivation / Plant breeding

Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.

Spear thistle prefers calcareous soils and is rarely found on pure clays. The distribution appears to be indifferent to soil fertility but optimal growth occurs at high nutrient levels [ 2 ].

Bull thistle has a two year life cycle, flowering and setting seed in the second year. Seeds are short-lived on the soil surface but can persist for many years when they are buried, such as form cultivation activities. Seed germination generally occurs in the fall and spring. Basal rosettes form and continue to grow until winter and can grow quite large, up to 3 feet in diameter. Rosettes that are not large enough by spring may not flower until the following year. Flowering usually starts in middle of June and continues into early fall. Plants can be self-pollinated or insect-pollinated. Bull thistle does not reproduce vegetatively and does not have rhizomes.

The seeds are dispersed by wind, mud, water, and possibly also by ants; they do not show significant long-term dormancy, most germinating soon after dispersal and only a few lasting up to four years in the soil seed bank.


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Articles about Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten.
Culinary / Use food. Use Medicinal / Herbal medicine / Use Ornamental