Alphabetical Plant Listing

Cirsium muticum (Swamp Thistle)

Swamp Thistle, Carduus muticus, Cirsium bigelovii, Cirsium muticum var. monticola, Cirsium muticum var. subpinnatifidum


A high-value nectar plant, Cirsium muticum (Swamp Thistle) is a tall biennial producing a basal rosette of slightly prickly, deeply lobed leaves in the first year and flowers in the second year. Its slender upright stems are clad with alternate, deeply lobed, nearly spineless leaves, 10 in. long (25 cm), becoming gradually smaller in size as they ascend the stem. In mid summer to fall, the plant boasts large, deep rosy-purple, pincushion-like flower heads, 2 in. across (5 cm), packed with numerous disc florets. Blooming for about 6 weeks, they produce copious nectar and are visited by numerous bees, skippers and butterflies. The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, occasionally visits the blossoms for their nectar. The flowers give way to small seeds with tufts of white hair that facilitate dispersal by the wind. Songbirds eat the seeds and use the hair tufts of the seeds in the construction of their nests. Found in swamps, wet woods, and thickets in the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada, Swamp Thistle has a stout taproot and does not spread by rhizomes. It is not invasive or as difficult to control as non-native thistles.

  • Grows up to 2-7 ft. tall (60-210 cm). Swamp Thistle will die after flowering, but will readily self seed in the garden.
  • Thrives in full sun in sandy, wet to moist soils. Tolerates partial sun and other soil types.
  • Lovely in 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.
  • Native to much of the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada.

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Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Cirsium - Thistles
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 2' – 7' (60cm – 210cm)
Water Needs Average, High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Moisture Retentive
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Ponds and Streams
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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Pictures are courtesy of 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 2 – 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Cirsium - Thistles
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 2' – 7' (60cm – 210cm)
Water Needs Average, High
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Moisture Retentive
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Deer
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Ponds and Streams
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

Great Plant Combination Ideas with Cirsium - Thistles

Guides with Cirsium - Thistles

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