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Hairless Blue Sow-thistle

Cicerbita plumieri

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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, Blue Globe-thistle, 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 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:
2 metres tall
Grassland, hedgerows, meadows, roadsides, sand dunes, wasteland, woodland.

Blue, many petals
A flat-topped panicle of pale blue, daisy-like flowers.
The fruit is a pappus. A pappus is a parachute-like structure which consists of a seed surrounded by white feathery hairs.
Pinnately lobed leaves. The terminal lobe is distinctly triangular in shape. Not hairy.
Other Names:
Plumier's Bittercress.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Cicerbita plumieri (Plumier's bittercress) is a species of flowering plant in the Asteraceae family. It is native to Europe and Western Asia. It is a perennial herb that typically grows to be about 2m tall. It flowers in late summer and autumn, with small white flowers arranged in clusters. The leaves are basal and are lobed or deeply toothed, and the stem is leafless. It is typically found in damp grassland, meadows, and roadside verges. It is edible and can be used in salads and sandwiches. The leaves have a bitter taste and are used in small quantities to add flavor to other dishes.


The Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, also known as Cicerbita plumieri, is a plant species native to Europe, where it can be found in a variety of habitats, including meadows, forests, and mountain slopes. It is a member of the Asteraceae family, which includes many common wildflowers such as daisies, sunflowers, and asters.

The Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is a biennial or perennial plant that can grow up to 2 meters tall. It has a blue-green stem and leaves that are deeply lobed and toothed. The plant produces flowers in the summer, which are clustered together in large, rounded heads that can be up to 5 cm in diameter. The flowers themselves are blue or purple in color, and they have yellow centers.

One of the distinguishing features of the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is the absence of hair on its stem and leaves. This is in contrast to many other species of sow-thistle, which have a woolly or hairy appearance. The plant also has a bitter taste, which makes it unpalatable to many animals, and has been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic and to treat liver problems.

In addition to its medicinal uses, the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle also has ecological importance. It is a host plant for the caterpillars of several butterfly species, including the Painted Lady and the Small Tortoiseshell. The flowers of the plant are also a food source for many species of bees and other insects.

Despite its ecological and medicinal value, the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is not commonly cultivated. It is typically considered a weed, as it can grow quickly and become invasive in some areas. However, in its native habitat, it plays an important role in supporting biodiversity and is a beautiful addition to any natural landscape.

The Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is a fascinating plant species that has both medicinal and ecological value. It is an important host plant for several butterfly species and provides food for a variety of insects. Despite its bitter taste, the plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat liver problems and as a diuretic. While it may be considered a weed in some areas, the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is a valuable component of many natural habitats and a beautiful addition to any landscape.

The Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is sometimes confused with other closely related plants such as the Prickly Sow-thistle (Sonchus asper) and the Common Sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus), but can be distinguished by its hairless stem and leaves. It is also sometimes called the Plumier's Sow-thistle, after the French botanist Charles Plumier who first described the plant in the 17th century.

In addition to its use in traditional medicine, the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle has also been used in culinary applications in some regions of Europe. The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach, and the plant has been used to flavor soups and stews.

Like many plant species, the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as the spread of invasive species. Climate change may also have an impact on the plant's distribution and range in the future. Efforts to protect and conserve the plant's native habitat, as well as reduce the spread of invasive species, can help to ensure the survival of this important plant species.

The Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is a fascinating and valuable plant species that is an important part of many natural ecosystems. Its hairless stem and leaves, bitter taste, and beautiful blue flowers make it a unique and distinctive plant, and its ecological and medicinal value make it an important component of many natural landscapes. While it may be considered a weed in some areas, the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is an important and valuable plant species that deserves our protection and conservation efforts.

Another interesting aspect of the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is its phytochemical composition. Studies have found that the plant contains a variety of compounds, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, and terpenoids, which have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. These compounds are believed to be responsible for some of the plant's medicinal effects, and have potential applications in the development of new drugs or natural health products.

The Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is also sometimes used in traditional folk remedies for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The plant contains compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin, and may help to reduce itching and redness associated with these conditions.

In terms of cultivation, the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is a hardy and adaptable plant that can grow in a variety of soil types and climatic conditions. It is not commonly cultivated for commercial purposes, but could potentially be grown for its medicinal or culinary uses.

In conclusion, the Hairless Blue Sow-thistle is a plant species with a range of fascinating features and potential applications. Its hairless stem and leaves, bitter taste, and beautiful blue flowers make it a distinctive and unique plant, while its ecological and medicinal value make it an important part of many natural ecosystems and traditional healing systems. Further research into the plant's phytochemical composition and potential applications could uncover new uses and benefits for this fascinating plant species.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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