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

    Welted Thistle (Carduus crispus) - but check the pappus hairs

    Identification difficulty
    ID guidance

    Stem spiny all the way up.  As with all Cirsium, the pappus-hairs (the silky white hairs attached to the seed - the thistledown) are individually feathery or branched.

    Recording advice

    A photograph of the whole plant, showing stems and leaves as well as flowers


    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.

    be our species champion

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

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

    UK Map