Spear Thistle - Cirsium vulgare


Tall plant to 1.5 metres, stem with sharp spiny wings to the top. Leaves lanceolate, pinnately lobed, sharply spiny margined, dull green and prickly-hairy on the upper surface. Flowerheads purple, 20 to 40 mm in a panicle or flat topped cluster. Flower bracts straight, with a yellow spine.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

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


Grassy and waste places, disturbed ground.

When to see it

July to October.

Life History


UK Status

Very common throughout Britain.

VC55 Status

Very common in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 604 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