Cirsium vulgare is also known as Cirsium lanceolatum, Carduus lanceolatus, Common Thistle, Bank Thistle, Birth Thistle, Blue Thistle, Boar Thistle, Button Thistle, Bull Thistle, Horse Thistle, Spear Thistle, or Bur Thistle. It is part of the Asteraceae family of plants.
Thistle is the national flower of Scotland. Sir Walter Scott selected it in 1822. The thistle selected is Onopordum acanthium. Onopordum acanthium is not a native Thistle. But Cirsium vulgare is.
It is native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northwestern Africa. Cirsium vulgare is a biennial. It grows up to 70cm or 2ft the first year. Second year it grows as high as 1.5m or 5ft.
Cirsium vulgare flowers produce a lot of nectar. It is in the top ten flowers producing nectar. That makes it very attractive to honey bees, bees, and butterflies. Cirsium vulgare seeds attract birds.
The leaves are grayish-green and spined. They are deeply lobed. The basal leaves are larger about 25cm or 10in. long. The Cirsium vulgare flowers are pinkish-purple. They are about 5cm or 2in in diameter. The seeds have a downy pappus making it easy to ride the wind.
Cirsium vulgare flowers from summer into autumn. Grow in the sun. Plant it in well-drained soil. It is considered a weed in many locations, and especially on agricultural land. It is generally free of any disease or pests.
England, the United States, and Australia consider Cirsium vulgare a weed. But it also has many benefits besides its nectar. Goldfinch other birds, Painted Lady Butterfly and Monarch Butterfly all depend on it.
Also read about Cirsium rivulare