Alphabetical Plant Listing

Cirsium occidentale (Cobwebby Thistle)

Cobwebby Thistle, Western Thistle, Red Thistle, Snowy Thistle


Tall and stately, Cirsium occidentale (Cobwebby Thistle) is an utterly charming biennial or short-lived perennial producing a basal rosette in the first year and flowers in the second year. Its stout and upright stem may be unbranched or with several ascending lateral branches. All parts of the plant are covered with long, pale, silky hairs, which resemble cobwebs. The ovate leaves are pinnately lobed with triangular lobes and sharp prickles. They clasp the stem, often with prickly wings. In late winter to fall, the plant boasts rose-purple pincushion-like flower heads, up to 3 in. across (8 cm), packed with many disc flowers. They are held within spiny bracts, all laced with white, woolly webbing. Blooming over a long period, the blossoms produce copious pollen and nectar and are visited by numerous native bees and butterflies. The blossoms give way to seeds with long downy plumes that facilitate dispersal by the wind. Finches relish the seeds. Native to western North America, Cobwebby Thistle can be found in coastal strand, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, as well as forests and disturbed areas. It has a central taproot and is not weedy or invasive as non-native thistles.

  • Grows up to 2-5 ft. tall (60-150 cm). Field Thistle will die after flowering, but will self-seed sparingly in the garden.
  • Thrives in full sun to partial shade in dry to mesic, well-drained soils
  • Lovely in butterfly gardens, cottage gardens, naturalized areas and prairies and meadows.
  • No serious pest or disease issues. The fierce prickles protect the plant from large grazers such as deer.
  • Propagate by seed in late fall to early spring. Germination usually takes place within 2-8 weeks. Division in spring or autumn
  • Native to California and Oregon.

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Requirements

Hardiness 7 – 10
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Cirsium - Thistles
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 2' – 5' (60cm – 150cm)
Water Needs Low
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, California, Pacific Northwest, Oregon
Tolerance Deer, Drought
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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Pictures are courtesy of Matt Lavin, Cultivar413, Joe Decruyenaere, 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 7 – 10
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Cirsium - Thistles
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 2' – 5' (60cm – 150cm)
Water Needs Low
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, California, Pacific Northwest, Oregon
Tolerance Deer, Drought
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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