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Curly plumeless thistle (Carduus crispus)

Curly plumeless thistle Common Names: Curled thistle, Curly plumeless-thistle, Welted thistle

Description: Favorite foodplant of caterpillars of the Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui). Extracts from this plant have been found to have anti-cancer properties such as Crispine B.

Habit: Herbaceous, drought-tolerant, 50-180 cm (20-70 in) tall.

Leaves: Alternate, lowest short-stalked, upper stalkless; edged of stalks winged; blade elliptic; pinnately lobed (sometimes only toothed margin); edges spiny; underside usually white-haired, top sparsely haired.

Stems: Branching, broadly winged, spiny, woolly, greyish in color, spines 2.5 mm long, quite delicate.

Flowers: Violet/lavender or purple in color; single, flower-like, 1.5-2.5 cm (0.6-1 in) capitula surrounded by involucre bracts; pedicels spineless, densely haired, capitula in dense clusters of 3-5.

Fruit and seeds: Roundish, slightly flattened, glabrous, glossy, shiny, yellowish brown, 3-4 mm (0.12-0.16 in.) long cypsela, tip with 8-12 mm (0.32-0.48 in.) long unbranched hairs.

Habitat: Native to Europe and Asia; Found in yards, fields, pastures, logging sites, railway yards, banks, heaps of earth, wasteland, around inhabited areas.

Reproduction: By seed.

Similar species: Spiny plumeless thistle (Carduus acanthoides).

Monitoring and rapid response: Hand-pulling, making sure to remove all fragments; effectively controlled using any of the several readily available general use herbicides such as glyphosate or triclopyr.

Credits: The information provided in this factsheet was gathered from the USDA PLANTS Database.

Individual species images that appear with a number in a black box are courtesy of the network ( photo author credits may not be included due to the small display size of the images and subsequent difficulty of reading the provided text. All other images appear courtesy of Google (

Common Name:

Curly plumeless thistle

Scientific Name:

Carduus crispus







USDA Symbol: