Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Canada Thistle - Cirsium arvense   (L.) Scopoli
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.) Scopoli
DistributionAlmost restricted to the Mountains; disjunct to Northampton County (railroad margin). First collected in 1935 in Transylvania County and in 1938 in Haywood County.

Native of Europe; in N.A. nearly throughout, except for a few Southeastern states.
AbundanceUncommon to infrequent in the Mountains, but very rare in the northern Coastal Plain. A noxious weed in many parts of the world, including much of North America. However, here in NC it seems not to be spreading much; our map is nearly identical to that in RAB (1968), and recent specimens are few in number.
HabitatFields, pastures, roadsides, clearings, mountain summit (Roan Mountain, Mitchell Co.), railroad margins.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July-November.
IdentificationCanada Thistle is a perennial from rhizomes and often forms small colonies, ranging to about 3-4 feet tall, with spine-tipped leaves typical of the genus. The stems and leaves are glabrous or glabrate (the leaves may be "cobwebby" at first). The heads are smaller than in our other thistles, and also pink without red or deep purple tones.
Taxonomic Comments
Other Common Name(s)
State RankSE
Global RankGNR
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
USACE-empFACU link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorrieSandhills prairie region of NE, July 2020. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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