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Eryngium leavenworthii (Leavenworth's eryngo)
Flaigg, Norman G.

Eryngium leavenworthii

Eryngium leavenworthii Torr. & A. Gray

Leavenworth's Eryngo, Eryngo, False Purple Thistle

Apiaceae (Carrot Family)


USDA Symbol: erle11

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Leavenworth’s Eryngo is a prickly, 20-42 in. annual with a leafy stem, broadly branched in the upper portion. Almost the entire plant has some shade of purple. Flowers are minute, purple, and mingled with small, spiny bracts in an elongated, terminal, head-like cluster. These are subtended by conspicuous spiny-tipped bracts. The leaves are deeply lobed, each segment edged and tipped with stiff spines. A tuft of small, rigid, spiny leaves grows out of the top of the flower head. It is desirable to wear a thick pair of gloves if one cuts the flowers.

The eryngos are not true thistles and are often confused with thistles, due to similarity in both appearance and habitat preference. Splashing fields a brilliant purple, it provides an excellent source for late summer and early fall color.


From the Image Gallery

44 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Ovate
Leaf Venation: Palmate
Leaf Margin: Pinnatifid
Fruit Type: Schizocarp
Size Notes: Up to about 3-1/2 feet tall.
Leaf: Purplish

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AR , KS , MO , OK , TX , WI
Native Distribution: Throughout TX, except Rio Grande Plains & the Trans-Pecos, n. to s.w. AR & KS
Native Habitat: Rocky prairies; open woods

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Calcareous soils. Caliche type, Limestone-based Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam Clay
Conditions Comments: Leavenworth's eryngo is a prickly annual with a leafy stem, broadly branched in the upper portion. The strange-looking eryngo is deer-resistant and geometric in form. This plant is very showy and interesting but has purple, alien-like flowers with tough, thorny leaves.


Use Ornamental: Attractive, Wildflower meadow. Eryngium leavenworthii is nothing short of fantastic with its metallic purple stems and flowers. Note that the stamens come out as bright blue filaments. When picked (cautiously!), maintains its color and shape, adding a unique touch to dried arrangements.
Use Wildlife: Nectar-insects, Cover, Seeds-Granivorous birds
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: High

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

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


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Although not widely available commercially, E. leavenworthii is easy to establish by planting seed in fall and spring. Seed germinates in 5-10 days at 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. For best results, plant seed immediately after harvesting.

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-MM-706 Collected 2005-11-01 in Lampasas County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

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


Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 281 - Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F...
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-03-08
Research By: NPC, TMH

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