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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Cirsium altissimum (Tall thistle)
Smith, R.W.

Cirsium altissimum

Cirsium altissimum (L.) Hill

Tall Thistle

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Synonym(s): Carduus altissimus, Cirsium altissimum var. biltmoreanum

USDA Symbol: CIAL2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)


From the Image Gallery

7 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Biennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Lanceolate , Oblong
Inflorescence: Head
Size Notes: Up to about 12 feet tall, often much shorter.
Fruit: Fruit is a cypsela (pl. cypselae). Though technically incorrect, the fruit is often referred to as an achene.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Ray flowers absent.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WI , WV

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds
Nectar Source: yes

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cirsium altissimum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cirsium altissimum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cirsium altissimum


Record Modified: 2022-10-12
Research By: Joseph A. Marcus

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