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Extension > Garden > Diagnose a problem > Is this plant a weed? > Broadleaf Weeds > Basal > Bull Thistle

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Bull Thistle

Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Tenore

  • Image: broadleaf Plantain
  • Image: broadleaf Plantain
  • Image: broadleaf Plantain

Found in:

  • Prairie and landscape plantings, and lawns (occasionally)


  • Biennial plant that produces a basal rosette and long taproot the first year
  • Upright flowering stem grows 2-4’ tall the second year
  • Stem is large, heavily branched and covered with dense hairs
  • Leaves are coarsely lobed with a long, sharp spine on each tip
  • Upper leaf surface is covered with stiff hairs and spines; lower surface is covered with dense, woolly, gray hair
  • Compact reddish purple flower heads, 1-2” in diameter, bloom June through Aug
  • Root system has a long taproot and underground stems (rhizomes)


Plants that look similar:

More information and control options for Bull Thistle

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