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Bull thistle

(Cirsium vulgare)

Bull thistle is a biennial forb that was introduced to North America as a seed contaminant and is now widespread. Gumdrop-shaped flowers are pinkish to dark purple in color and 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter. The flower bracts are somewhat tapered and covered with spines. Seeds are capped with a circle of plume-like white hairs. Leaves are alternate. In Colorado, Bull thistles are the only species that are prickly hairy on the top and are cottony-hairy on the undersides of the leaves. In mature plants the leaves extend down, clasping the stem, and are divided into segments. The plant has a short, fleshy taproot with several primary roots extending from the root crown. Seed leaves are round to spatulate, and smooth. Mature plants can produce up to 4,000 seeds per plant.

Bull thistle fact sheet