Bull thistle is a coarse, erect herbaceous biennial
with a stout stem usually branched above the middle, loosely tomentose,
and often glandular-hairy. There is a basal rosette of oblanceolate
to elliptic, coarsely-toothed leaves which are either sessile or wing-petioled.
The alternate, green, cauline leaves are long-decurrent, lanceolate,
up to 12" long, bristly above and tomentose beneath, and deeply
pinnately cleft into spreading, spine-margined lobes. The main veins
on the under surface are prominent. The solitary flower heads are discoid
with an ovoid to globose involucre which is covered with numerous, imbricated,
spine-tipped, linear phyllaries in 5-10 series, the lowermost of which
are almost recurved. The disk flowers are lavender to purple and well
exserted with pappi of many plumose bristles. The flowering heads are
closely subtended by bract-like upper leaves. Bull thistle is a common
and aggressive weed that grows to 4' tall, and is found both in chaparral
and in waste and disturbed places throughout Southern California below
6000', blooming from June to September. It is a native of Europe.
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Cirsium
Pronunciation: SIR-see-um vul-GARE-ee.
Click here for Botanical