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Meadow Thistle

Cirsium dissectum

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.
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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 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, 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:
80 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, grassland, meadows, roadsides.

Purple, many petals
Solitary purple flowers with purple-tipped, lance-shaped bracts. Covered in a white, cottony down. Flowerheads measure 2.5-3cm across.
A feathery tuft of white hairs (pappus) attached to a seed.
The slightly pinnately lobed leaves are green and hairless. The undersides are covered in white, cottony hairs. Slightly toothed margins. The stems are also covered in white, cottony hairs. The rosette (basal) leaves are long-stalked. The upper (stem) leaves clasp their stems. Perennial. Found in similar areas around Britain as Melancholy Thistle (Cirsium heterophyllum). Meadow Thistle also looks similar to Melancholy Thistle but Meadow Thistle is slenderer, less hairy and has narrower leaves.
Other Names:
Marsh Plume Thistle.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Cirsium dissectum, also known as the meadow thistle, is a perennial herb in the Asteraceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is known for its tall, spiky stems and large, purple flowers. It can be found in meadows, grasslands, and along roadsides. The plant is considered invasive in some areas, particularly in North America, where it can outcompete native vegetation. However, it is also used in traditional medicine and as a food source in some cultures.


Meadow Thistle, also known as Cirsium dissectum, is a beautiful and hardy plant species that can add an elegant touch to any landscape. Native to North America, Meadow Thistle is known for its tall stems and large, showy flowers that bloom from mid to late summer. With its striking appearance and versatility, this plant has become a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers alike.

One of the most notable features of Meadow Thistle is its bright, purplish-pink flowers, which grow up to 3 inches in diameter. The flowers are composed of numerous tubular petals that are arranged in a circular pattern, making them look like fluffy pom-poms. The flowers are not only beautiful, but also highly attractive to pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, making Meadow Thistle a valuable addition to any wildlife-friendly garden.

In addition to its ornamental value, Meadow Thistle is also prized for its hardiness and versatility. It is a robust plant that can grow in a variety of soils and conditions, including those that are dry or rocky. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who want a plant that is low maintenance and can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Despite its tough exterior, Meadow Thistle is also quite graceful and adds a delicate touch to any garden. Its tall stems, which can grow up to 6 feet in height, are topped with delicate leaves that are deeply dissected and lacy in appearance. This gives the plant an airy and delicate look that can contrast beautifully with more structured or sturdy plants.

When it comes to planting and care, Meadow Thistle is a relatively low-maintenance species. It should be planted in full sun and well-drained soil, and will require very little supplemental watering once established. In fact, too much water can be detrimental to the plant and can lead to root rot. It is also important to note that Meadow Thistle can spread aggressively in some areas, so be sure to keep an eye on it and remove any unwanted shoots as necessary.

Meadow Thistle is a beautiful and versatile plant that can bring an elegant touch to any garden. With its hardiness, striking appearance, and ability to attract pollinators, it is a valuable addition to any landscape. Whether you are an experienced gardener or just starting out, Meadow Thistle is sure to be a valuable addition to your garden.

Aside from its ornamental value, Meadow Thistle has also been used for medicinal purposes by indigenous peoples for centuries. The roots, leaves, and stems of the plant contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, making it useful in the treatment of conditions such as arthritis, headaches, and other forms of pain.

In addition to its medicinal benefits, Meadow Thistle is also a great food source for wildlife. The stems and leaves of the plant are edible and can be consumed by wildlife like deer, elk, and rabbits. The seeds of the plant are also a valuable food source for birds, particularly finches and sparrows.

In some areas, Meadow Thistle is considered an invasive species due to its ability to spread aggressively. However, with proper management, it can be controlled and kept in check. When planting Meadow Thistle in your garden, be sure to give it plenty of room to grow and consider installing physical barriers or using mulch to control its spread.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal benefits, Meadow Thistle can also be used in landscaping and restoration projects. Because of its tolerance to a variety of soils and growing conditions, it can be used to stabilize and improve soil quality in areas that have been disturbed, such as construction sites or erosion-prone slopes.

The deep roots of Meadow Thistle also help to retain moisture in the soil, making it a valuable plant for landscaping in arid or drought-prone areas. In these areas, Meadow Thistle can be used to help conserve water by reducing evaporation and runoff.

Meadow Thistle is also a great plant for use in native plant gardens. As a native species, it is well-adapted to the local growing conditions and climate, and can provide habitat and food for native wildlife.

When incorporating Meadow Thistle into your landscaping or restoration project, it is important to consider its growth habits and potential for spreading. While it can be controlled with proper management, it is important to plan for its growth and potential spread when designing your garden or landscaping project.

In conclusion, Meadow Thistle is a versatile and valuable plant that offers a range of benefits to gardeners, wildlife, and the environment. Whether you are looking to improve soil quality, conserve water, or create a wildlife-friendly garden, Meadow Thistle is an excellent choice. With its hardiness, versatility, and striking appearance, this beautiful plant is sure to make a valuable addition to any landscaping or restoration project.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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