Cirsium arvense (Creeping Thistle)

Scientific Name

Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.

Common Names

Creeping Thistle, Canada Thistle, Canadian Thistle, Lettuce from Hell Thistle, California Thistle, Corn Thistle, Cursed Thistle, Field Thistle, Green Thistle, Hard Thistle, Perennial Thistle, Prickly Thistle, Small-flowered Thistle, Way Thistle, Stinger Needles


Cirsium arvense subsp. arvense, Cirsium arvense var. arvense, Breea arvensis, Breea dioica, Breea ochrolepidia, Breea praealta, Breea setosa, Carduus arvensis, Carduus haemorrhoidalis, Carduus neglectus, Carduus segetum, Carduus serratuloides, Carduus setosus, Cephalonoplos arvense, Cephalonoplos arvensis, Cephalonoplos ochrolepidium, Cephalonoplos segetum, Cephalonoplos setosus, Cirsium albicans, Cirsium albiflorum, Cirsium argenteum, Cirsium argunense, Cirsium x celakovskianum, Cirsium dioicum, Cirsium halophilum, Cirsium horridum, Cirsium incanum, Cirsium laevigatum, Cirsium macrostylon, Cirsium mutatum, Cirsium neglectum, Cirsium ochrolepidium, Cirsium praealtum, Cirsium ruthenicum, Cirsium setosum, Cirsium sordidum, Cirsium stocksii, Cnicus arvensis, Cnicus candicans, Cnicus lanatus, Cnicus macrostylus, Cnicus neglectus, Cnicus ruthenicus, Cnicus setosus, Cynara repens, Serratula arvensis, Serratula incana, Serratula setosa

Scientific Classification

Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cynareae
Genus: Cirsium


Color: Purple to white
Bloom Time: Late June to August


Cirsium arvense is an erect perennial herbaceous plant, up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, with an extensive creeping rootstock and ridged and hairy stems. Leaves are lance-shaped, irregularly lobed, up to 6 inches (15 cm) long, and with weakly to strongly prickled margins. Flowers are purple to white, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) in diameter. Flowering occurs in late June to August. The seeds are called achenes. They are up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long and have a feathery pappus.

Cirsium arvense - Creeping Thistle Canada Thistle
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How to Grow and Care

The seeds of Cirsium can be sown in either autumn or after the last frost of spring. They should be sown at a depth of 0.12 inches (3 mm). If grown indoors first, then Cirsium takes about 2 to 3 weeks to germinate at a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 24 degrees Celsius). The seedlings should be planted out in early spring when it is still possible to get a frost with a spacing of about 2 feet (60 cm).

Cirsium thrives in full sun and poor, average, or reach soil that is moist but well-drained. Plants require little care, but deadheading limits their tendency to self-sow. They generally self-sow only in moderation, and unlike weedy thistles, the seedlings are easy to pull up. Use Thistles in mixed beds, herb gardens, or meadow-like plantings. See more at How to Grow and Care for Thistles (Cirsium).


Native throughout Europe and northern Asia, and widely introduced elsewhere.


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