The genus name derives from the Greek words "ekhinos" meaning "hedgehog" and "opisis" meaning "aspect", with reference to the appearance of the inflorescence, while the specific epithet sphaerocephalus derives from the words "sphaera" meaning "round" and "kephalos" meaning head.
Its erect branching, gray, slightly wrinkled and hairy stems bear the occasional large, soft, sharply toothed, sharp-lobed pointed green leaves. They are sticky hairy above, and white woolly below.
The flowers are pollinated by insects (usually bees, wasps and butterflies) (entomogamy) and are hermaphrodite (self fertilization or autogamy). The fruits are hairy cylindrical achenes about 7 to 8 mm long. They ripen from September through October. The seeds are dispersed by wind (anemochory).
This species is native to Eurasia but it lives on other continents where it was introduced, including North America where it is a widespread weed. It is very common in the mountains of southern France and southern and central Europe.
It grows in sunny, rocky or brushy places in more or less mineral rich soils at an altitude of 0–400 metres (0–1,312 ft) above sea level.
- Echinops sphaerocephalus L. subsp. albidus (Boiss. et Spruner) Kozu.
- Echinops sphaerocephalus L. subsp. sphaerocephalus
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- ASTERACEAE, SUNFLOWER FAMILY, The Jepson Manual
- USDA Plants Profile
- Globe Thistle, Ontario Weeds
- Echinops sphaerocephalus, alterVISTA
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