Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Swamp Thistle
Cirsium muticum

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cirsium (SIR-see-um) (Info)
Species: muticum (mu-tee-kum) (Info)

3 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Unknown - Tell us

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds
Flowers are good for drying and preserving
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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to view:

By northeastwisc
Thumbnail #1 of Cirsium muticum by northeastwisc

By northeastwisc
Thumbnail #2 of Cirsium muticum by northeastwisc

By northeastwisc
Thumbnail #3 of Cirsium muticum by northeastwisc


No positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral dkm65 On Jul 21, 2007, dkm65 from Cedar Falls, IA (Zone 4b) wrote:

I would give this a positive, except that it is unfortunately on a couple state's noxious weed list (Arkansas & Iowa) along with every other thistle, native or non-native. It is Native from North Dakota to Texas and east. It is a wetland obligate, so suitable to wet or wet mesic soil conditions. Ironically, it is listed as threatened in Arkansas. It is also ironic that Iowa's state bird is the American goldfinch, which prefers thistle seed to just about anything else and yet Iowa tries to eliminate all thistles (goldfinches also line their nests with thistle flower fibers).

It is an important nectar plant for fritillary butterflies, some of which are species of concerned or locally threatened. It is not aggressive, as it is kept in check by a host of native herbivorous insects and by goldfinches. It is also attacked by exotic insects introduced to help check exotic invasive thistles. Interestingly, there have been some studies that native thistles, by nurturing the species that keep them in check help to also check invasion by problematic non-native thistles like bull and Canada thistle.

The other problem is that there is a common prejudice that thistles are weeds, so even if it is legal to grow thistles in your state, your neighbors might frown at you doing so. This is a shame, as the thistle's flower is interesting, thistle seed head provides fall and winter interest in its distinctive shape, and it is an important plant for wildlife gardening.

Grow (on dry patches) with birdsfoot violet (Viola pedata) & prairie violet (Viola pedatifida) to support regal fritillary (& other fritilaries) butterfly, which depend on these violets as larval hosts and seek thistles as adult food sources.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cedar Falls, Iowa

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