Italian thistle is a slender, prickly-stemmed
annual or biennial growing 1' to 6' tall with pinnately-cleft leaves
that have lobes with spine-tipped teeth. The alternate leaves are greenish
and slightly woolly above and white-tomentose beneath, 4"-5"
long, with bases that clasp the stem and extend downwards forming spiny
wings. The discoid flowering heads are about 1/2" wide, sessile
or short-peduncled, and in clusters of 2-5 at the stem ends. The phyllary
tips are spreading to ascending, linear-lanceolate, spiny and scabrous,
with bases that are covered with wool at the base. The corollas are
rose-purple, and the corolla lobes about three times as long as the
tubes. The fruit is a light tan or buff achene 1/4" long with a
pappus of dirty-gray, hairlike bristles up to 3/4" long. Italian
thistle is an occasional weed growing along roads, trails, firebreaks
and in pastures and other disturbed areas, blooming from May to July.
It is a native of Europe.
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Carduus
Pronunciation: KARD-ew-us pik-no-SEF-a-lus.
Click here for Botanical