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Herbaceous Perennial

Cirsium arvense
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

creeping thistle

A fast-spreading perennial reaching 1m in height and colonising by rhizomes. Stems are generally spineless, although leaves are pinnately lobed and spiny. Pinky-lilac flowers, 1-1.5cm across are borne in clusters between June and September and become the classic thistledown for wind dispersal

Other common names
Californian thistle
Canada thistle
see moreNorth American cursed thistle
prickly thistle
swamp thistle
way thistle
Synonyms
Serratula arvensis
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Size
Ultimate height
0.5–1 metres
Time to ultimate height
2–5 years
Ultimate spread
0.5–1 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green
Summer Pink Purple Green
Autumn Green
Winter Green
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

South–facing or East–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H7
Botanical details
Family
Asteraceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Evergreen
Habit
Clump forming, Suckering
Genus

Cirsium may be biennials or perennials with spiny leaves and typical thistle-type flower-heads

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe, NE US

How to grow

Cultivation

Grows in disturbed ground or grassy places and provides a food source for a range of insects and birds. It can become a serious weed as it spreads using lateral roots which are brittle and readily re-shoot if broken. It has the potential to become a nuisance and best not grown in a garden situation. See our web page on creeping thistle for further information

Propagation

Propagate by seed or by division of the rhizomes

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Wildflower meadow
  • Wildlife gardens
Pruning

No pruning required

Pests

Generally pest-free

Diseases

Generally disease-free

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