Cirsium heterophyllum

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Cirsium heterophyllum
Cirsium heterophyllum - villohakas.jpg
Cirsium heterophyllum (Melancholy Thistle)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Carduoideae
Tribe: Cynareae
Genus: Cirsium
Species: C. heterophyllum

Cirsium heterophyllum, also known as Melancholy Thistle, is an erect spineless herb in the flowering plant family Asteraceae. It is native to north-western Europe and western Asia, where it grows in upland meadows, grasslands, road verges and open woodland.


Cirsium heterophyllum (Illustration)

It is a perennial herb. Unusually for a thistle, it lacks spines. The plant grows 45 to 120cm tall, and forms creeping runners. The stem is grooved but unwinged, more-or-less branchless, and cottony. The leaves are green and hairless above, thick white-felted underneath. The basal leaves are lanceolate with petioles and softly prickly edges, and grow from 20 to 40 cm long, and from 4 to 8 cm wide. The upper leaves do not have stalks, clasping the stem with cordate (heart-shaped) bases. The flower heads are 3 to 5 cm long and wide, the flowers red-purple in colour, and appear from July to August.[1][2][3]


Cirsium heterophyllum is a northern boreal species of Western Europe and Central Asia.[2] It is native in upland areas of Scotland and northern England and north Wales, but is rare in other parts of Great Britain and Ireland. It is present throughout Scandinavia except Denmark, in north central Europe and Russia to about 100 degrees East. It grows in upland grassland and scrub, open woodland and river valleys.[2]

Similar species[edit]

Cirsium dissectum (Meadow Thistle) is a more slender version.

Medical use[edit]

The plant was considered a possible cure for sadness. Nicholas Culpepper in 1669 said that it "makes a man as merry as a cricket".[4]


  1. ^ Rose, Francis (1981). The Wild Flower Key. Frederick Warne & Co. pp. 382–383. ISBN 0-7232-2419-6. 
  2. ^ a b Stace, C.A. (2010). New flora of the British isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 695. ISBN 9780521707725. 
  3. ^ Blamey, M.; Fitter, R.; Fitter, A (2003). Wild flowers of Britain and Ireland: The Complete Guide to the British and Irish Flora. London: A & C Black. p. 290. ISBN 978-1408179505. 
  4. ^ [1]