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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 horridulum (Bristle thistle)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Cirsium horridulum

Cirsium horridulum Michx.

Bristle Thistle, Yellow Thistle, Horrid Thistle, Purple Thistle, Spiny Thistle, Bull Thistle

Asteraceae (Aster Family)


USDA Symbol: ciho2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A tall branching stem with large yellowish or red-purple flower heads and very spiny, clasping leaves. It usually grows 2 to 5-1/2 feet tall, and the leaves are 8-24 inches long. In rare instances the blossom is pale yellow to almost white.

Often found along the edges of salt marshes, it is also a pasture weed in the South, where it is frequently red-purple instead of yellow. Prairie Thistle (C. canescens) also yellow, has leaves white and velvety beneath and grayish above, with leaf bases extending, wing-like, down the stem. It is typical of overgrazed western pastures.


From the Image Gallery

35 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Size Notes: Up to about 8 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: White , Red , Pink , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Sometimes pale yellow to almost white. Flower color varies greatly.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , LA , MA , MD , ME , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NV , NY , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA
Native Distribution: Coastal Plain from southern Maine to Florida; west to Texas.
Native Habitat: Shores, marshes, sandy or peaty fields.

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.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Little Metalmark
(Calephelis virginiensis)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native host plants for Painted Lady Butterfly
June 01, 2006
I am looking for host plants for the Painted Lady Butterfly that I can plant in my school's (I am a teacher) native plant/butterfly garden. As part of the curriculum, each spring the 1st grade raises...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1161 Collected 2008-04-29 in Harrison County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-12-05
Research By: TWC Staff

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