Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Cirsium texanum

Texas thistle

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Cirsium texanum (Texas thistle)
Smith, Sandy
The Texas thistle grows 2-5 feet tall, without branches, or sparingly branched near the top. The numerous leaves are alternate, 4-9 inches long, smaller on the upper third of the stem. Leaves are green above and white below, with a woolly texture on the underside. The irregular lobes have spines at the tip but few elsewhere on the leaf. There is 1 flower head to a stem, with no ray flowers but numerous disk flowers, which are deep rose-lavendert.

Bumblebees work the flowers when they mature.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Biennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Margin: Lobed
Inflorescence: Head
Size Notes: 2 to 5
Leaf: Blades green & glabrous above, grayish or whitish beneath.
Flower: Flowers 1 mm broad in a larger flower head.
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Violet
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


Native Distribution: Prairies and roadsides nearly throughout Texas, Oklahoma & Missouri, and south to northern Mexico.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes
Conditions Comments: Commonly recognized for its flower, Texas thistle is a drought tolerant species that blooms in early summer. The flower is a good nectar source for pollinators. Let the flower progress to seed, providing food for birds.


Use Wildlife: Bumblebees work the flowers when they mature. Larvae of painted-lady butterfly feed on foliage. Goldfinches eat seeds and use fluff (silky) of ripened seeds to line nests.
Use Other: Goldfinches reported to use the pappus bristles of the flower to line their nests. Also used as a nectar source for butterflies.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds
Larval Host: Painted Lady
Nectar Source: yes

Last Update: 2009-03-10