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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Bull Thistle - Cirsium vulgare
Other Names:  Spear Thistle

Non-native Species

Global Rank: GNR
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 0

External Links

General Description
Taprooted biennial. Stems erect, often branched, 30–120 cm. Herbage green, spreading-hirsute to sparsely arachnoid. Leaves short-petiolate; blades lanceolate to obovate, 5–30 cm long, deeply pinnately lobed with prominent whitish veins beneath. Inflorescence heads mostly solitary at stem tips, forming open corymbiform arrays; peduncles 1–8 cm long. Involucres campanulate, 25–40 mm high, sparsely arachnoid; phyllaries imbricate in 10 to 12 series, green, linear-lanceolate; outer keeled but not resinous with an erect or spreading spine-tip 2–10 mm long; inner linear, acuminate. Disk corollas purple, 2–3 cm long. Achenes 3–5 mm long (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Species Range

Range Comments
Introduced throughout North America; native to Eurasia (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 4260

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Disturbed meadows, thickets, roadsides; plains, valleys, montane (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).


  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • McGregor, R.L., coordinator, and T.M. Barkley, R.E. Brooks, and E.K. Schofield, eds.: Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: Univ. Press Kansas. 1392 pp.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Bull Thistle — Cirsium vulgare.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from