Common Blue-sow-thistle - Cicerbita macrophylla


This tall (to 150 cm) plant has pale lilac-blue flowers similar in appearance to those of Chicory. The inner disc florets have deeper blue stigmas. The many bracts around the base of the flower are of various lengths and may be tinged purple at the ends. They have sticky hairs which also cover the stems and un-opened flower buds. The bracts form a narrower neck half-way up. The leaves are very variable in shape, but triangular-toothed. Some are arrow-head shaped, whereas others have a deep neck nearer the stem. All clasp the main stem without stalks.

Identification difficulty
Recording advice

Unless identified by a recognised expert, a photo is required. If the photo doesn't show the key ID features then in the comments box describe the size and identifying characters you have observed.


Most records are of plants that have escaped from gardens and become established on roadsides, pond margins and river banks where, with its long rhizomes, it forms large patches.

When to see it

In flower during July and August.

Life History

Perennial herb.

UK Status

It has a mainly northern and western distribution in Britain and is thought to be spreading.

VC55 Status

Infrequently recorded in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 11 of the 617 tetrads.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map