Alphabetical Plant Listing

Cirsium horridulum (Bull Thistle)

Bristle Thistle, Yellow Thistle, Horrid Thistle, Purple Thistle, Spiny Thistle, Bull Thistle


A high-value nectar plant, Cirsium horridulum (Bull Thistle) is a biennial or short-lived perennial boasting tall stalks topped with large purple flowers (sometimes yellow) that emerge from a basal rosette of very spiny, toothed, green and purple leaves, 8-24 in. long (20-60 cm). Blooming in the spring, the pincushion-like flower heads, 3 in. across (7 cm), are packed with small disk florets. They produce copious nectar and are visited by numerous bees, bumblebees, beetles, and butterflies. The blossoms give way to cottony white seed heads that shatter to the wind. Birds eat the seeds. All parts of the plant, including the seeds, have sharp spines - be careful when handling the plant. Often found along the edges of salt marshes, fields, shores, savannahs, roadsides, and waste places, Bull Thistle is long-lived and makes a beautiful display when planted in mass.

  • Grows up to 1-4 ft. tall (30-120 cm). Will spread via underground suckers and self-seeding.
  • Thrives in full sun to partial shade in moist to very dry, sandy or calcareous, well-drained soils. Drought tolerant, it does not require any supplemental water once established.
  • Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations, wildflower gardens, and butterfly gardens.
  • No serious pest or disease issues. The plant’s prolific amount of seeds makes it very difficult to control in a garden.
  • Propagate by seed.
  • Native to the eastern and southern United States from New England to Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma as well as to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Bahamas.

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Requirements

Hardiness 8 – 11
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Plant Family Cirsium - Thistles
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Height 1' – 4' (30cm – 120cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Southwest, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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Brett Hondow, Shutterstock, Gailhampshire, Sabrina Setaro, 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 8 – 11
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Plant Family Cirsium - Thistles
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Height 1' – 4' (30cm – 120cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Southwest, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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