yellow starthistle
Centaurea solstitialis L.


This annual plant can grow 0.25-3 ft. (0.07-0.9 m) in height.
Leaves that are located near the base are petiolate, dissected, 2-6 in. (5-15.2 cm) long. These certain leaves are normally absent during the time of flowering. Leaves further up the stem are 0.4-4 in. (1-10 cm) long.
Flowering occurs from June-October. Yellow flowers appear in heads at the tips of the branches. Bracts that extend the flower head have a small cluster of spines.
This seed type represents between 10 and 25% of the total seed and often remains in the seed-heads until late fall or winter. The central flowers produce glossy, gray, or tan to mottled cream-colored and tan seeds with a short, stiff, unequal, white pappus 0.08-0.2 in. (2-5 mm) long.
Ecological Threat
Centaurea solstitialis invades woodlands, fields, pastures and roadsides.


Selected Images


EDDMapS Distribution

EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit

State Regulated List

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Centaurea
Subject: Centaurea solstitialis L.

Synonyms and Other Names

Other Common Names:
yellow star thistle, yellow star-thistle, golden starthistle, yellow cockspur, St. Barnaby's thistle

Related Scientific Names:
Leucantha solstitialis L. (Synonym)


Plants - Forbs/Herbs