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Cirsium occidentale var. candidissimum (Snowy thistle)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Cirsium occidentale var. candidissimum

Cirsium occidentale (Nutt.) Jeps. var. candidissimum (Greene) J.F. Macbr.

Snowy Thistle

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Synonym(s): Cirsium candidissimum, Cirsium pastoris


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A white, woolly, prickly plant with rayless, crimson flower heads atop few upper branches terminating main stem.

With its blaze of red flowers accentuated by white foliage, this is perhaps the handsomest thistle among a group considered to be composed of aggressive weeds. The genus name Cirsium comes form the Greek "kirsos," which means "swollen vein," for which thistles were a reputed remedy. Snowy Thistle is one of an intergrading complex of forms and is sometimes considered a subspecies of C. occidentale. The thistles in this group vary, some with less densely hairy foliage, others with grayer hairs; some have white, rose, or purple disk flowers. These various forms occur from northern to southern California.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Biennial
Habit: Herb

Bloom Information

Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


Native Distribution: Southern Oregon, northern California, and western Nevada.
Native Habitat: Dry open slopes in brushy or grassy areas and in open woods.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cirsium occidentale var. candidissimum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cirsium occidentale var. candidissimum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cirsium occidentale var. candidissimum


Record Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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