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UK Nature  > Wild Flowers  > Red & Pink Wild Flowers  >
Cirsium arvense




Common Name(s):   Creeping Thistle
Scientific Name:   Cirsium arvense

Cirsium arvense is a species of Cirsium, native throughout Europe and northern Asia, and widely introduced elsewhere. The standard English name in its native area is Creeping Thistle. It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to between 30cm and 100cm in height, forming extensive clonal colonies from rhizomes that send up numerous erect stems each spring. The stems are green, smooth and glabrous (having no trichomes or glaucousness), mostly without spiny wings. The leaves are very spiny, lobed, up to 15–20 cm long and 2–3 cm broad (smaller on the upper part of the flower stem). The inflorescence is 10–22 mm diameter, pink-purple, with all the florets of similar form (no division into disc and ray florets). The flowers are usually dioecious, but not invariably so, with some plants bearing hermaphrodite flowers. The seeds are 4–5 mm long, with a feathery pappus which assists in wind dispersal. The seeds are an important food for goldfinches and linnets, and to a lesser extent for other finches. Creeping thistle foliage is used as a food by over 20 species of Lepidoptera, including the painted lady butterfly and the engrailed, a species of moth, and several species of aphids; the flowers are visited by a wide variety of insects.











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