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Tuberous Thistle

Cirsium tuberosum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


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 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, 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:
1 metre tall

Purple, many petals
Solitary, dark purple flowers with cottony bracts. Insect pollinated.
The fruit is an achene with a tuft of feathery hairs at one end. The seeds ripen from July to September.
Deeply lobed leaves which are silvery grey and spiny. The leaves are the same shade of green on both sides. The stem leaves half-clasp their stems. The rosette leaves are the most deeply lobed leaves. Perennial.
Other Names:
Root Thistle.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Cirsium tuberosum, also known as "root thistle" is a perennial herb of the Asteraceae family. It is native to Asia and Europe, but has been introduced in North America. It can grow up to 1.5 m tall. It has large, spiky, dark-green leaves with white or red veins and a large flower head with pink, purple or white flowers. The plant has a long taproot which is edible and has been traditionally used in some areas as a vegetable. It is also considered as a medicinal plant and been used to treat various ailments such as indigestion, kidney problems, and skin conditions.


Tuberous Thistle: A Rare and Beautiful Wildflower

Tuberous thistle, also known as Cirsium tuberosum, is a rare and beautiful wildflower that is native to Europe and Asia. This plant is a member of the aster family and is known for its striking purple-pink flowers that bloom from June to August.

The plant grows to be about 2-3 feet tall and has a sturdy stem that is covered in green, spiny leaves. The flowers of the tuberous thistle are large, with many petals that form a circular shape. They are a favorite of many pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and are also a food source for many species of insects.

One of the unique characteristics of the tuberous thistle is its root system. The plant has a large, underground tuber that stores energy and nutrients. This tuber enables the plant to survive in areas where there is little rainfall or soil moisture.

In addition to being an attractive wildflower, the tuberous thistle also has medicinal properties. The plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including digestive issues, skin problems, and respiratory problems.

Despite its beauty and usefulness, the tuberous thistle is considered to be a threatened species in many areas. The plant is vulnerable to habitat destruction and overgrazing, and its populations have declined in many regions. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this rare wildflower and to prevent it from becoming extinct.

The tuberous thistle is a beautiful and valuable wildflower that is worth protecting. Whether you are interested in its striking flowers, its medicinal properties, or its unique root system, this plant is sure to impress. If you have the opportunity to see a tuberous thistle in the wild, be sure to take advantage of it!

If you're looking to add the tuberous thistle to your garden, there are a few things you should know. This plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade. It is also important to keep the plant well-watered, especially during the dry summer months.

Another thing to consider when growing tuberous thistle is its tendency to spread. This plant has a vigorous root system and can quickly become invasive if not managed properly. To prevent this, it is recommended to plant it in a container or to place a barrier around the plant to prevent its roots from spreading.

In addition to its use as a garden plant, the tuberous thistle also has a place in traditional folk culture. In many parts of Europe, it was believed that the plant had protective properties and was used to ward off evil spirits. The plant was also believed to have healing powers, and was used to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds, skin problems, and digestive issues.

The tuberous thistle is a fascinating and beautiful wildflower that deserves a place in your garden or natural area. With its striking flowers, interesting root system, and historical significance, this plant is sure to capture your imagination.

It's worth mentioning that the tuberous thistle is not to be confused with another species of thistle, the invasive Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium), which is considered a weed in many parts of the world. While both plants are members of the aster family and have spiny leaves, they have distinct differences in terms of their flowers and overall appearance.

In addition to its ornamental value, the tuberous thistle also has ecological importance. As a nectar source for pollinators, it helps to support the populations of bees, butterflies, and other important insects. The plant is also a food source for wildlife, including game birds and small mammals.

If you are interested in growing the tuberous thistle, it is widely available for purchase from nurseries and seed suppliers. The plant can be propagated from seeds or from the underground tuber, and it is typically easy to care for and maintain.

Overall, the tuberous thistle is a beautiful and valuable plant that is worth considering for your garden or natural area. With its striking flowers, interesting root system, and importance to the ecosystem, this plant is sure to bring joy and beauty to your landscape for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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