Cirsium heterophyllum, also known as melancholy thistle, is an erect spineless herb in the sunflower family. It is native to Europe and western Asia, where it grows in upland meadows, grasslands, road verges and open woodland.
Cirsium heterophyllum is a perennial herb. Unusually for a thistle, it lacks spines. The plant grows 45 to 120 cm 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 petioles, clasping the stem with cordate (heart-shaped) bases. The flower heads are 3 to 5 cm long and wide, the flowers red-purple, and appear from July to August.
Cirsium heterophyllum is a species of northern Europe and Central Asia. 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, in north central Europe and Russia to about 100 degrees East and in the high mountains of southern Europe. It grows in upland grassland and scrub, open woodland and river valleys.:695
Cirsium dissectum (meadow thistle) is a more slender species.
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