Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.
Synonym(s): Californian thistle, creeping thistle, field thistle

Cirsium arvense, a rhizomatous perennial grows from 1-5 ft. (0.3-1.5 m) tall. Roots can grow deep into the ground. Stems do not have conspicuous spines.
Leaves are dark green and lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate. They are glabrous above, but their undersides have short, white hairs. They may be pinnatifid and very prickly. Basal leaves are 5-8 in. (12-20 cm) long. Leaves are usually sessile to slightly clasping. Leaf characteristics are variable across different varieties and subspecies.
It has male and female plants. Female flowers are flask-shaped, 0.4-0.6 in. (1-1.5 cm) in diameter, and 0.4-0.75 in. (1-2 cm) tall. Female flowers are fragrant, the male flowers are not. Male flowers are smaller and more globose than the female flowers. Flowers range from purple to pink or white. It blooms from June to August.
Fruits are tiny, 0.1 in. (2-3 mm) long, about 0.04 in. (1 mm) in diameter, with a white to light brown pappus.
Ecological Threat
Cirsium arvense is most commonly found in agricultural and disturbed sites, or sites that are undergoing restoration. It is shade intolerant and therefore is rarely found within wooded sites, except in clearings. It is found in some dry, sandy sites, but more commonly on the edges of wet habitats such as stream banks and lake shores. In the western and northern U.S. it presents a significant problem in prairie and riparian habitats.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources