Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Canada Thistle
Give a thumbs up Creeping Thistle
Give a thumbs up Canadian Thistle

Botanical names:
Cirsium arvense Accepted
Serratula arvensis Synonym
Carduus arvensis Synonym
Cirsium incanum Synonym
Cirsium setosum Synonym
Breea arvensis Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Plant Height: 2-3 ft ( 40-90cm)
Leaves: Other: Edged with spines
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Lavender
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Late summer or early fall
Underground structures: Rhizome
Uses: Will Naturalize
Dynamic Accumulator: Fe (Iron)
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Self fertile
Sow in situ
Can handle transplanting
Other info: An invasive weed in North America
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Pollinators: Self
Moths and Butterflies
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil


May Plants for Honey BeesMay Plants for Honey Bees
May 11, 2012

May is the month when late spring blooms are going strong and early summer blooms are getting ready to show off. The living is good for honey bees.

(Full article10 comments)
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Posted by cwhitt (43016 - Zone 6b) on Feb 21, 2018 8:59 AM

This Canada Thistle is pretty invasive and can really take over an area very quickly. It can choke out other plants and wildflowers quickly. They are growing at at the condo where I live (Ohio), but they just happen to be growing in a small area contained on all sides by asphalt. Otherwise, they would probably need to be removed as too invasive for our condo setting. But even though the plant is invasive, I can see that it has it benefits in its contained area. The goldfinches love them, and it might not be an accident that the goldfinches showed up at the same time the thistle started growing. Also, tons of bees are attracted to the masses of light purple flowers. In the fall, they do tend to lose their appeal a little and start to look a little weedy. Even so, it is nice to have this little area of wildness in a formal condo setting.

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Posted by Mindy03 (Delta KY) on Mar 4, 2012 12:27 PM

Honey bees get nectar from this plant which produces a white colored honey.

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Posted by Bonehead (Pacific NW - Zone 8b) on Apr 16, 2014 8:16 PM

This is a non-native invasive in the Pacific Northwest (originally from Eurasia). It quickly will overwhelm an entire field and livestock generally won't eat it. The best way we've found to eradicate it is to simply mow it regularly. If it doesn't go to seed, it will eventually go away. Patience is a virtue.

On the plus side, the peeled stems and roots are edible in a pinch.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Before and after. Bye bye thistles!! by MindiHammerstone Apr 28, 2018 11:12 AM 67
What is this weedy wildflower, small purple flowers that turn to fluff by cwhitt Jun 27, 2017 6:17 PM 3
Is this a type of thistle? by ljones26 Nov 17, 2016 5:19 PM 5
Thistle by Givenup Jul 15, 2016 9:34 AM 3
Weed or an herb for ID by abhege May 6, 2015 1:34 PM 23
Mixed seed packet plant #1 by Seedfork Apr 25, 2015 7:21 AM 10
Cirsium? by SCButtercup Apr 3, 2015 5:58 PM 17
New data field: Dynamic Accumulators by dave Jul 28, 2014 9:00 PM 3
How do you get rid of thistles in your daylily gardens? by daylilydreams Jul 10, 2014 9:30 AM 19
Thinking on the names issues - synonyms, cultivar names, trade names, etc by dave Jul 16, 2012 3:59 PM 76

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