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Marsh Thistle

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A tall, untidy thistle growing in damp habitats anywhere across the county.


Marsh Thistle: tall and ugly!

Post date: Monday, 18 August, 2014 - 00:00

The marsh thistle (Cirsium palustre) is another of the common members of the thistle genus found in Dorset. It mainly grows, as its common name implies, in marshes, damp meadows and grassland, by rivers and ponds, in damp woodland; indeed anywhere the soil is damp (for some of the time at least). It can be quite widespread and can even form quite dense patches in suitable habitat.

This plant has a tall central stem (which is very prickly) from which other stems occasionally shoot out to the sides and at the end of each stem you get a tight cluster of small dark purple flowers, just a few in flower at any one time. The leaves are thin and pointed with sharp spines on the edges. It is not a particularly attractive plant perhaps but it can certainly be impressive and I have seen them growing to nearly eight feet tall.

It flowers from July to September and is really quite distinctive once you recognise its main features.


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 Marsh Thistle
Scientific Name Cirsium palustre
Family Daisy family - Compositae
Status Frequent
Interest Level
Species Family Daisy Family - Compositae
Flower Colour Group Purple
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
Preferred Environment
Look for A tall prickly thistle with a branches stem but small flowers for the size of the plant
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

This species is often found in these habitats:

Habitat(s) Relationship
GN: Neutral Grassland Associated