Bull Thistle, Yellow Thistle, Purple Thistle, Spiny Thistle

Cirsium horridulum

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cirsium (SIR-see-um) (Info)
Species: horridulum (hor-id-YOO-lum) (Info)
Synonym:Carduus spinosissimus
Synonym:Cirsium horridulum var. horridulum




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Pale Pink


Pale Yellow



Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall



This plant is resistant to deer

Other details:

This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


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


Saint Augustine, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Trenton, Florida

Covington, Louisiana

Norco, Louisiana

Austin, Texas

Broaddus, Texas

Desoto, Texas

Red Oak, Texas

Santa Fe, Texas

Spring, Texas

Waxahachie, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 9, 2012, themoonhowl from Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant has grown well beyond the normal height/width...mine is 57 inches tall and has a span of just over 5 feet. Also, it is hardy to zone 3 and is on the noxious weed list for 46 states. It is very prolific and can produce thousands of seeds. It is a food source for a number of birds, bees and butterflies.


On Mar 3, 2011, Crystalsaurus from Spring, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This spiny thistle is has been growing in my backyard here in Spring, Texas. It grows rapidly, daily there is new growth to admire.


On Nov 9, 2010, cirsius from Covington, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

From about late March the plant emerges with a broad crown of concentric prickly thorn tipped leaves. By May a thick stem 3/4" develops from one to two feet with a developing flower head. The entire plant cannot be handled without gloves; however, some locals in my area pick the stems and peal the outer portion, leaving a tender hollow mass which is boiled and served as a side vegetable. There is a window of about 2 - 3 weeks for this cultivation before the stem hardens. This plant is widely dispersed throughout the hay fields in my area and is regarded as a nuisance to the hay industry.


On Jul 2, 2004, SudieGoodman from Broaddus, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Purple Thistle grows as a perennial along roadsides and just about everywhere in early spring. I pot it up for bees, butterlies and/or birds to enjoy; it is a plant to be admired, also. I have acidic sandy loam soil with much rainfall.


On Aug 30, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Yellow thistle is on the endangered species list in CT and NH.


On Apr 13, 2002, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This Thistle is a biennial with a tall branching stem, large variable colored flower heads and very spiny, clasping leaves. The flower heads are surrounded by erect, narrow, spiny bract-like leaves. The leaves are 6-10 inches long, lanceolate in outline, pinnately lobed, stalkless and clasping the stem, with spiny margins and tips. It grows to between 1 and 5 feet tall. This is a frequent native weed of pinelands, disturbed areas, is often found along the edges of salt marshes and is typical in overgrazed pastures.