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Yellow Thistle

Cirsium erisithales

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, 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, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
16 centimetres tall
Cliffs, fields, gardens, meadows, rocky places, waterside.

Yellow, many petals
Flowers are solitary or in clusters of up to 5. Pale yellow flowerheads, up to 3cm across.
A seed (achene) with a tuft of feathery hairs (pappus) at the end.
There are only a few leaves. The leaves are sharp-toothed lobes. Erect, more or less hairless stems. Perennial. In Britain, this species can only be found in a particular disused quarry in Bristol.
Other Names:
Woolly Thistle, Yellow Melancholy Thistle.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Cirsium eriophorum, also known as the woolly thistle, is a perennial herb in the Asteraceae (sunflower) family. It is native to Europe and Asia, but can also be found in North America as an introduced species. This plant is known for its large, spiky leaves and purple or pink flowers. It is often considered a weed and is difficult to control once established in a garden or field. It is also considered a threat to the biodiversity of many regions. However, it is also known for its medicinal properties. The root of the plant is used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues and skin conditions.


Yellow Thistle, also known as Cirsium erisithales, is a beautiful and unique species of flowering plant that is native to the temperate regions of Europe and Asia. It is a biennial or perennial herb that is known for its bright yellow flowers, which bloom from June to August, and its distinctive spiny leaves that are covered in small, prickly hairs.

The plant grows up to two meters tall and can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and along the banks of streams and rivers. It prefers well-drained soils and can grow in both sunny and partially shady conditions.

One of the most distinctive features of Yellow Thistle is its bright yellow flowers, which can range in size from 3 to 4 cm in diameter. The flowers are surrounded by spiny bracts, which protect the delicate blooms from damage and herbivores. The bracts also provide a unique and beautiful contrast against the green foliage of the plant.

Aside from its ornamental value, Yellow Thistle has several other uses. For example, it has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, as the plant has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. In traditional medicine, it was used to treat a variety of ailments, such as wounds, rheumatism, and digestive problems.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Yellow Thistle is also a popular source of food for various species of birds and insects. The seeds of the plant are a valuable source of nutrition for many bird species, and the nectar from the flowers provides a food source for bees and other insects.

Yellow Thistle is a beautiful and unique plant that is worth considering for any garden or landscaping project. Its bright yellow flowers, distinctive spiny leaves, and versatility make it a valuable addition to any ecosystem. Whether you're looking for a beautiful ornamental plant or a source of food for wildlife, Yellow Thistle is a great choice.

In terms of cultivation, Yellow Thistle is a relatively easy plant to grow and care for. It can be propagated by seed or by dividing the roots of established plants. It is important to plant Yellow Thistle in a well-drained soil and to avoid over-watering, as this can lead to root rot. The plant is also drought-tolerant and does not require frequent watering once established.

When it comes to pests and diseases, Yellow Thistle is generally resistant to most common problems. However, it can be susceptible to rust, a fungal disease that can cause yellow or orange spots on the leaves. To prevent rust, it is important to avoid overhead watering and to provide good air circulation around the plant.

Another issue to keep in mind with Yellow Thistle is that it is considered an invasive species in some areas, particularly in North America. In these regions, it is important to plant Yellow Thistle in a contained area and to avoid allowing the seeds to spread into natural habitats, as it can outcompete native species and disrupt ecosystems.

Overall, Yellow Thistle is a beautiful and versatile plant that can add beauty and interest to any garden. Whether you're looking for a source of food for wildlife, a beautiful ornamental plant, or a natural remedy, Yellow Thistle is a great choice that is sure to impress. Just be sure to research the regulations in your area and take steps to prevent it from becoming invasive.

Another interesting aspect of Yellow Thistle is its cultural significance. Throughout history, the plant has been associated with several different meanings and beliefs. For example, in folklore, Yellow Thistle was often seen as a symbol of bravery and strength, as the spiny leaves were thought to protect the plant from danger and harm. In some cultures, the plant was also believed to have magical properties, and was used in rituals and spells to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

In modern times, Yellow Thistle is often used as a symbol of Scotland, and is incorporated into the national emblem and flag of the country. The plant is seen as a symbol of the rugged beauty and resilience of Scotland, and is revered by many Scots as a symbol of their cultural heritage.

Despite its cultural significance, however, Yellow Thistle is also a highly versatile plant that has many practical uses. In agriculture, for example, the plant can be used for forage or as a green manure, as the deep roots of the plant can help to break up hardpan soils and improve soil fertility. The plant is also used in landscaping, where its bright yellow flowers and spiny leaves can provide a unique and eye-catching accent.

In conclusion, Yellow Thistle is a fascinating plant that is rich in history, culture, and practical uses. Whether you're looking for a beautiful ornamental plant, a symbol of cultural heritage, or a useful addition to your garden, Yellow Thistle is a great choice that is sure to impress. Just be sure to research the regulations in your area, and take steps to prevent it from becoming invasive, to ensure that you can enjoy this wonderful plant for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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