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Creeping Thistle

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Creeping thistle grows almost anywhere there is some open ground and is very common. 


Creeping Thistle: the answer is blowing in the wind

Post date: Monday, 4 August, 2014 - 00:00

The creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) is probably our most common thistle species. It grows almost anywhere on scrub, grassland and roadsides with a preference for open ground so it also likes arable land and pasture and there it can become a serious weed.

The creeping thistle is not the most attractive of flowers. It has small pale purple flowers that emerge in clusters at the top of the stems. The leaves are untidy, wrinkled and prickly (rather than speared). Despite being rather plain and dull they go through a stage in the autumn when they take on, for a brief time anyway, a certain beauty. Thistles of all all varieties turn from their generally purple coloured heads into silver-grey haired oldies and for all its faults the creeping thistle produces the most wonderful seed heads that are a favourite of goldfinches and other birds. For this reason, whilst most farmers seek to eradicate the creeping thistle, on Arne farm it is positively encouraged by the RSPB! 

This autumn beauty is short lived however as the wind soon starts to break the seed heads up and blow them away. I just wonder at how many seeds there must be on a single flower head. Isn't nature amazing? Even the common creeping thistle is a little bit special despite being despised.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Creeping Thistle
Scientific Name Cirsium arvense
Family Daisy family - Compositae
Status very common
Interest Level
Species Family Daisy Family - Compositae
Flower Colour Group Purple
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
Preferred Environment
Look for Masses of tall untidy thistles with spiny ;eaves
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

This species is often found in these habitats:

Habitat(s) Relationship
BA: Arable farmland Associated
SM: Mixed Scrub Associated