Cirsium discolor
field thistle

Cirsium discolor

Cirsium discolor
Cirsium discolor

Cirsium discolor
Photo courtesy Renee Brecht
Britton & Brown
Botanical name: Cirsium discolor (Muhl. ex Willd.) Spreng.
Common name: field thistle
Group: dicot
Family: Asteraceae
Growth type: forb/herb
Duration: biennial; perennial
Origin: native
Plant height: 3 - 7'
Foliage: prickly, deeply lobed, undersides covered with white felt
Flower: large heads, pink to purple, to 2" across
Flowering time: mid-August to late September, occasionally into October
Habitat: fields and roadsides
Range in New Jersey: statewide
Heritage ranking, if any: n/a
Misc. The white underside of the leaves distinguishes this plant from the non-native Cirsium vulgare; also the bracts subtending the flowerheads have only fine spines or no spines, as opposed to numerous spines on C. vulgare.

Insect pollinated by bumblebees, and butterflies such as monarchs, fritillaries, painted ladies, swallowtails, sulphers, and sphinx moths.

It is larval food for painted ladies. The seeds are eaten by goldfinches, and the hair on the underside of the leaf is used as nest lining material. Ruby throated hummingbird will also drink its nectar. Illinois wildflowers