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Blue Globe-thistle

Echinops bannaticus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Treasureflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White African Daisy, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, meadows, roadsides, wasteland.

Blue, 5 petals
Blue Globe-thistle produces spherical flower heads comprised of numerous tiny, densely packed, blue or violet florets. The flowers bloom from mid to late summer, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The distinctiveness of the flower structure, along with its vibrant color, adds visual appeal to gardens and natural landscapes.
After flowering, Echinops bannaticus transitions into globular seed heads. These seed heads are spiky and add visual interest to the plant. The seeds within these structures are responsible for the plant's reproduction. As the seed heads mature, they contribute to the plant's overall appearance and can persist through the winter, providing continued interest in the garden.
Blue Globe-thistle features spiky leaves along its stem. The leaves are typically deeply lobed and have a coarse texture. The foliage contributes to the overall robust and architectural appearance of the plant. These leaves, along with the distinctive spherical flower heads, make Blue Globe-thistle an attractive and unique addition to gardens and natural landscapes.
Blue Globe-thistle is not typically known for having a strong or distinct smell. The plant is primarily appreciated for its visual appeal, featuring spherical flower heads with densely packed florets. While some plants are prized for their fragrance, Blue Globe-thistle is primarily cultivated for its architectural structure and ornamental value rather than any notable scent.
Other Names:
Balkan Globe Thistle, Hungarian Globe Thistle.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Echinops bannaticus, commonly known as Blue Globe Thistle or Balkan Globe Thistle, is a species of thistle in the Asteraceae family. It is native to the Balkans and the Carpathian Mountains in Central and Eastern Europe. The plant has a tall, upright habit, with blue-green leaves and spiky, globe-shaped flowers that are typically blue to violet in color. The flowers typically bloom in late summer and early fall, and are attractive to bees and other pollinators. Like other Echinops species, it is drought-tolerant and can be grown as an ornamental garden plant.


Blue Globe-thistle, also known as Echinops bannaticus, is a stunning herbaceous perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Asteraceae family and is widely cultivated for its striking blue, spherical flower heads and unique foliage.


The Blue Globe-thistle plant can reach up to 3 to 4 feet in height and has a spread of about 2 to 3 feet. The plant has a basal rosette of lobed leaves that are deeply divided, giving them a spiky appearance. The leaves are a bluish-grey color and are covered in small white hairs that give them a soft texture. The stem of the plant is tall and erect and is topped by a large spherical flower head that measures about 2 inches in diameter. The flowers are a striking blue color and are surrounded by spiny bracts that protect the flowers from predators.


Blue Globe-thistle is a hardy plant that can be grown in a variety of soils, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. The plant is drought-tolerant and can survive long periods of dry weather. It is also resistant to pests and diseases and requires little maintenance.


Propagation of the Blue Globe-thistle plant is typically done through seed. The seeds can be sown directly into the soil in the spring or fall. It is also possible to propagate the plant through division in the spring or fall. To divide the plant, dig up the root ball and separate it into smaller sections, making sure each section has some roots and foliage.


Blue Globe-thistle is a popular ornamental plant that is often grown in gardens and borders. It is also used in floral arrangements as a cut flower due to its unique appearance and long-lasting nature. The plant has also been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, fever, and respiratory infections.

In conclusion, Blue Globe-thistle is a beautiful and unique plant that is easy to grow and requires little maintenance. Its striking blue flowers and spiky foliage make it an attractive addition to any garden or landscape. Whether you're looking for a low-maintenance plant for your garden or a unique cut flower for your floral arrangements, Blue Globe-thistle is definitely worth considering.


There are several different varieties of Blue Globe-thistle available, each with its own unique characteristics. Some popular varieties include Echinops bannaticus 'Blue Glow,' which has a more intense blue color and larger flower heads than the standard variety, and Echinops bannaticus 'Taplow Blue,' which has a more compact growth habit and smaller flower heads.

Blue Globe-thistle is also a great plant for attracting pollinators to your garden. The flowers are a favorite of bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, making it a great choice for those looking to support local ecosystems and encourage biodiversity.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, Blue Globe-thistle has also been used in traditional dyeing practices. The dried flower heads can be used to create a beautiful blue dye, which was once used to dye textiles and clothing.

Blue Globe-thistle is a great plant for adding texture and interest to mixed borders and perennial gardens. It combines well with other sun-loving plants such as ornamental grasses, coneflowers, and Black-eyed Susans. Its unusual, spiky foliage and striking blue flowers can provide a unique contrast to other plants in the garden, creating a visually appealing display.

Another great feature of Blue Globe-thistle is its long-lasting nature. The flowers can last for several weeks or even months, depending on the weather conditions. This makes it a great plant for cut flower arrangements, as the flowers can be enjoyed indoors as well as outside in the garden.

When it comes to caring for Blue Globe-thistle, it is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It requires well-draining soil and regular watering during the first growing season to help it establish a strong root system. After that, it can tolerate periods of drought and requires little additional watering. It also benefits from regular deadheading to encourage new growth and prolong the flowering season.

Blue Globe-thistle is also a great plant for attracting beneficial insects to your garden. The flowers are a rich source of nectar and pollen, which attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. These insects play a vital role in the ecosystem by pollinating plants and ensuring the production of seeds and fruits.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological benefits, Blue Globe-thistle has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant was used by ancient Greek and Roman physicians to treat a variety of ailments, including fevers, headaches, and respiratory infections. It was also used as a diuretic and to stimulate the appetite.

Modern research has shown that Blue Globe-thistle contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including flavonoids and phenolic acids, that may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These compounds may help to protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Overall, Blue Globe-thistle is a versatile and beneficial plant that can provide a range of benefits to both the garden and the human body. Whether you're looking to add some beauty and interest to your garden or want to explore the potential health benefits of this unique plant, Blue Globe-thistle is definitely worth considering.

30 Amazing Facts About the Blue Globe-thistle

Echinops bannaticus, commonly known as Blue Globe-thistle, is a fascinating plant with several interesting characteristics. Here are 30 amazing facts about Echinops bannaticus:

  1. Scientific Name: Echinops bannaticus belongs to the Asteraceae family and is known for its distinctive spherical flower heads.

  2. Native Habitat: The plant is native to southeastern Europe, including regions like Romania and the Balkans.

  3. Appearance: Blue Globe-thistle grows up to 3 to 4 feet tall and features spiky leaves along its stem.

  4. Flower Structure: The spherical flower heads are composed of numerous tiny, densely packed, blue or violet florets.

  5. Attracts Pollinators: Blue Globe-thistle is a magnet for pollinators, especially bees and butterflies, due to its abundant nectar.

  6. Drought Tolerant: This plant is well-adapted to dry conditions and can thrive in well-drained soil with minimal water requirements.

  7. Perennial Nature: Echinops bannaticus is a perennial plant, meaning it lives for more than two years, and it tends to bloom from mid to late summer.

  8. Sun-loving Plant: It prefers full sun exposure and is commonly found in meadows, grasslands, and open areas.

  9. Hardiness Zones: Blue Globe-thistle is suitable for planting in hardiness zones 3 to 8.

  10. Low Maintenance: Once established, Echinops bannaticus is a low-maintenance plant, requiring little care.

  11. Globular Seed Heads: After blooming, the flowers transition into round, spiky seed heads that add visual interest to the plant.

  12. Cut Flower: Blue Globe-thistle is often used in floral arrangements, both fresh and dried, due to its unique appearance.

  13. Deer Resistant: The spiky nature of the plant makes it less appealing to deer, making it a good choice for gardens prone to deer browsing.

  14. Folklore: In traditional medicine, extracts from Echinops bannaticus have been used for various medicinal purposes, including anti-inflammatory properties.

  15. Cultural Symbolism: Blue Globe-thistle is sometimes associated with symbolism such as strength and protection due to its spiky appearance.

  16. Winter Interest: The dried seed heads of Blue Globe-thistle can provide winter interest in the garden, adding texture even after the growing season.

  17. Landscaping Plant: It is often used in landscaping to add texture and color to gardens and borders.

  18. Companion Planting: Blue Globe-thistle can serve as a companion plant, attracting beneficial insects that help control pests.

  19. Magnet for Bees: Its nectar-rich flowers make it an excellent source of food for bees, contributing to pollinator conservation.

  20. Historical Uses: In the past, various parts of Echinops bannaticus were used for dyeing fabrics due to their natural pigments.

  21. Medicinal Uses: Some cultures have used Blue Globe-thistle for its purported medicinal properties, including anti-rheumatic and diuretic effects.

  22. Invasive Potential: While not highly invasive, Blue Globe-thistle can self-seed and spread under favorable conditions.

  23. Culinary Use: While not a common culinary plant, some cultures have used Echinops bannaticus in traditional dishes.

  24. Diversity: The Echinops genus includes various species, each with its unique characteristics and features.

  25. Maturity Period: Blue Globe-thistle typically takes two to three years to reach maturity from seeds.

  26. Ethnobotanical Significance: Some indigenous cultures may have used Echinops bannaticus for cultural or ritualistic purposes.

  27. Water-wise Gardening: Its ability to thrive in dry conditions makes it a valuable addition to water-wise or xeriscape gardens.

  28. Seed Dispersal: The spiky seed heads aid in seed dispersal, as they can catch the wind and be carried to new locations.

  29. Adaptability: Blue Globe-thistle can adapt to various soil types, including clay and sandy soils.

  30. Botanical Interest: Gardening enthusiasts often appreciate Blue Globe-thistle for its unique botanical features, contributing to biodiversity in home gardens.


Blue Globe-thistle filmed at Glasson Dock in Lancashire on the 30th July 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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