The main feature you usually first notice about thistles are the thorns or spines but the meadow thistle (Cirsium dissectum) does not appear to have any at all! Generally growing in damp meadows amongst long grasses the leaves are generally well hidden but if you dig deep down at the base of the stem you will find prickly leaves so it is a real thistle after all! The stem may not be prickly but it is certainly hairy.
The meadow thistle is a perennial herb found always in damp grassy places where the soil is none acidic; this type of habitat is formally known under the British National Vegetation Classification system as fen-meadow. This means that the meadow thistle is probably most common in the west of Dorset on the clay soils of Blackmore Vale and Marshwood Vale. Where it occurs it can be quite well established and plentiful but it does not grow in clusters like some of its relatives.
Care needs to be taken to avoid confusing this plant with similar species such as saw-wort and knapweed.