Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Tall Thistle - Cirsium altissimum   (L.) Sprengel
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Cirsium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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Author(L.) Sprengel
DistributionMountains and Piedmont. The gaps in the latter are likely to be filled with additional fieldwork. The Moore County record is from the PLANTS database; no specimen is at the SERNEC database.

MA to ND, south to northwestern FL and TX.
AbundanceFairly common to locally common in the Mountains, at least in the central and southern counties. Mostly uncommon in the western Piedmont and rare in the central and eastern Piedmont counties.
HabitatOpen woodlands, clearings, fields, pastures, and thickets. The true native habitats in NC are not known with certainty. The Orange County specimen came from a streambank and adjacent field, New Hope Creek at SR 1009, in 1975.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September-November.
IdentificationThis is a tall (3-7 feet), fall-flowering thistle with white or whitish, densely short-hairy, undersides of leaves. The midpoint of the heads is greater than 2 cm wide (vs. less than 2 cm wide in C. carolinianum and C. virginianum). The inflorescence bracts have well-developed spines (contra C. muticum with none or spines a maximum of 0.5 mm long). The leaves are merely toothed or very shallowly lobed (vs. deeply lobed in C. discolor).
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS4? [S4]
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorriePaint Rock Preserve, Jackson County, AL, late Sept 2018. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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