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Annual Biennial

Cirsium vulgare
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

spear thistle

A handsome biennial that rises to a metre in height, the spear thistle bears spiny stems and pinnately lobed, pointed leaves. Pinkish-purple thistle flowers bloom singly or in clusters from midsummer through to early autumn

Other common names
bank thistle
bird thistle
see moreblue thistle
boar thistle
bull thistle
bur thistle
button thistle
horse thistle
plume thistle
Synonyms
Cirsium lanceolatum
Carduus lanceolatus
Size
Ultimate height
1–1.5 metres
Time to ultimate height
1–2 years
Ultimate spread
0.1–0.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green
Summer Purple Green
Autumn Green
Winter Green
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

East–facing or South–facing or West–facing

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

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

Name status

Correct

Plant range
N hemisphere

How to grow

Cultivation

Naturally occurs in disturbed ground or grassy places and provides a food source for a range of insects and birds, but it can become a serious weed as it spreads vigorously and it has the potential to become a nuisance. It is best not grown in a garden situation

Propagation

Propagate by seed

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Wildflower meadow
Pruning

No pruning required

Pests

Generally pest-free

Diseases

Generally disease-free

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