Marsh Thistle - Cirsium palustre


Medium to tall plant to 1.2 metres, stems spiny-winged to the top, sometimes branched above. Leaves linear lanceolate, pinnately lobed and very spiny, mostly unstalked, hairy above. Flowerheads usually purple, 10 to 12 mm in clusters of 2 to 8. Flower bracts purple tinged, erect, weakly spiny.

Similar Species

Mostly easily confused with Welted Thistle but can be distinguished by its feathery seeds. Welted Thistle has seeds with down that is unbranched.

Photo ID?

Wet habitats, woodland clearings, wet ditches and marshes.

When to see it

July to September.

Life History


UK Status

Common throughout Britain.

VC55 Status

Quite common in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 379 of the 617 tetrads.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map

UK Map