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Dwarf Thistle

Cirsium acaule

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, 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, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, 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:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, meadows, roadsides.

Purple, many petals
Solitary purple flower with greenish-purple bracts, up to 4cm.
A flat, shiny achene with a pappus of feathery hairs at the end.
Basal rosette leaves only. The unstalked leaves are wavy-edged and very prickly.
Other Names:
Picnic Thistle, Stemless Thistle.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Cirsium acaule, also known as the stemless thistle, is a species of thistle in the Asteraceae family. It is native to North America and can be found in various habitats such as meadows, prairies, and roadsides. This thistle is a small, perennial herb that grows to around 6-12 inches tall. It has a basal rosette of leaves that are spiny, and a single, reddish-purple flower head that sits on a long stalk. The leaves and the stem are both covered in soft, white hairs, which gives it a furry appearance. It is not considered a invasive species like the others cirsium mentioned before and it's used in ornamental gardening in some regions.


Dwarf Thistle: A Unique and Resilient Wildflower

Dwarf Thistle, also known as Cirsium acaule, is a unique and fascinating wildflower that is native to North America. With its small stature and delicate beauty, Dwarf Thistle has become a popular choice for gardeners and nature enthusiasts alike.

One of the most remarkable features of Dwarf Thistle is its ability to thrive in harsh and challenging environments. This resilient wildflower can be found growing in rocky soils, on hillsides and in areas that are prone to drought. Despite the tough conditions, Dwarf Thistle manages to produce beautiful and vibrant blooms each year.

The flowers of Dwarf Thistle are small, but they are incredibly striking. Each blooms features a vibrant yellow or orange color and a unique, circular shape that makes it stand out from other wildflowers. The blooms are surrounded by a ring of prickly green leaves, which help to protect the plant from herbivores and other predators.

In addition to its beauty, Dwarf Thistle also plays an important role in the ecosystem. The wildflower provides a crucial food source for a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. This not only helps to support these important species, but it also contributes to the overall health and diversity of the ecosystem.

Another notable aspect of Dwarf Thistle is its cultural significance. For many indigenous communities, this wildflower holds a special place in their traditional practices and beliefs. In some cultures, Dwarf Thistle is seen as a symbol of resilience and strength, while in others, it is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

Despite its many benefits, Dwarf Thistle is often considered a nuisance by many people. Its prickly leaves and tough growing conditions can make it difficult to manage, and it is often seen as an unwanted weed. However, with proper care and management, Dwarf Thistle can be an asset to any garden or natural area.

When it comes to growing Dwarf Thistle, it's important to understand that this wildflower is well adapted to tough growing conditions. It is a hardy plant that is capable of thriving in a variety of soils, from rocky to sandy. However, it is best to avoid planting it in areas that are consistently wet, as this can lead to root rot.

When planting Dwarf Thistle, it is important to space the plants far enough apart to allow for proper air circulation and to prevent the spread of diseases. It is also important to provide adequate sunlight, as this will help to ensure that the plants produce plenty of vibrant blooms each year.

In terms of care and maintenance, Dwarf Thistle is a low-maintenance plant that requires very little attention. It is generally a self-sufficient plant that does not require fertilization or regular watering, although a light watering once a week can be beneficial during periods of drought. Pruning is not necessary, but removing spent blooms can help to promote continued blooming throughout the growing season.

One of the best things about Dwarf Thistle is that it is very easy to propagate. The plant can be divided, or new plants can be grown from seed. Simply collect the seed heads once they have dried, and then sow them in well-drained soil in a sunny location. With proper care, these new plants will grow into healthy and vibrant specimens that will continue to provide beauty and benefits for years to come.

Dwarf Thistle is a unique and fascinating wildflower that is well worth considering for your garden or natural area. With its beautiful blooms, tough growing conditions, and low-maintenance needs, this wildflower is the perfect choice for anyone who wants to bring a touch of nature's beauty into their life.

Another aspect to consider when it comes to Dwarf Thistle is its role in the food chain. While the plant provides a crucial source of food for pollinators, it is also a valuable food source for other wildlife species. For example, the seeds of Dwarf Thistle are enjoyed by many species of birds, including goldfinches, buntings, and sparrows. The plant's prickly leaves and stems also provide shelter and protection for small mammals, such as rabbits and voles.

It's also worth mentioning that Dwarf Thistle is a good choice for those who are interested in attracting wildlife to their garden. With its vibrant blooms and importance as a food source, the plant can help to attract a wide variety of pollinators and other wildlife species. This not only makes the garden more beautiful, but it also contributes to the overall health and diversity of the local ecosystem.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Dwarf Thistle is an important component of many different ecosystems. The plant is found in a variety of habitats, including meadows, grasslands, and sagebrush communities. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and stability of these ecosystems, by providing food and habitat for a variety of species. This in turn helps to maintain the overall biodiversity of these important habitats.

In conclusion, Dwarf Thistle is much more than just a beautiful wildflower. It is a resilient, low-maintenance plant that provides a variety of important benefits to the ecosystem, including providing food and habitat for pollinators and other wildlife species, and maintaining the health and stability of important habitats. Whether you are a gardener, nature enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, Dwarf Thistle is definitely worth considering.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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