Alphabetical Plant Listing

Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle)

Tall Thistle, Edible Thistle, Indian Thistle, Carduus altissimus, Cirsium altissimum var. biltmoreanum


Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) is a tall biennial or short-lived perennial producing a basal rosette in the first year and flowers in the second year. Its upright, sparingly branched stems bear alternate leaves with deep spine-tipped lobes and downy white undersides. In mid summer to fall, the plant boasts purple to pink pincushion-like flower heads, 2 in. across (5 cm), packed with small disk florets. Blooming for about 6 weeks, they produce copious nectar and are visited by numerous bees, beetles and butterflies. The blossoms give way to bullet-shaped achenes with tufts of cottony white hairs that facilitate dispersal by the wind. Finches, small mammals and insects eat the seeds. Found in open deciduous woodlands, woodland borders, thinly wooded rocky slopes, areas along woodland paths, savannas, thickets, swamps, meadows in the eastern and central United States, Tall Thistle has a central taproot and does not spread by rhizomes. It is not invasive or as difficult to control as non-native thistles.

  • Grows up to 3-7 ft. tall (90-210 cm) and 12-24 in. wide (30-60 cm). Tall Thistle will die after flowering, but will readily self seed in the garden.
  • Thrives in full sun to light shade in moist to mesic, well-drained soils.
  • Lovely in borders, cottage gardens, naturalized areas and prairies and meadows. Good as cut flowers too!
  • No serious pest or disease issues. Grazing animals will avoid grazing the immediate area around thistles.
  • Propagate by seed.
  • Native to the eastern and central United States.

Not sure which Cirsium - Thistles to pick?
Compare All Cirsium - Thistles

Buy Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle)

Requirements

Hardiness 3 – 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Cirsium - Thistles
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 3' – 7' (90cm – 210cm)
Spread 1' – 2' (30cm – 60cm)
Spacing 18" – 24" (45cm – 60cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

Buy Plants


Superior National Forest, Flickr

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 3 – 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Cirsium - Thistles
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 3' – 7' (90cm – 210cm)
Spread 1' – 2' (30cm – 60cm)
Spacing 18" – 24" (45cm – 60cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

Plant Calculator

How many Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) do I need for my garden?

%
ft
ft

Your Shopping List

Plant Quantity
Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle)

Find your Hardiness Zone

Find your Climate Zone

Find your Heat Zone

Join Gardenia.net

Create a membership account to save your garden designs and to view them on any device.

Becoming a contributing member of Gardenia is easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you provide us with your name, email address and the payment of a modest $25 annual membership fee, you will become a full member, enabling you to design and save up to 25 of your garden design ideas.

Join now and start creating your dream garden!

Create a New Collection

Optional. For your reference.


Move Selected Plants to a Different Collection


Delete Collection

This field is required.