Cirsium palustre

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Cirsium palustre
Sumpfkratzdistel uf1-1-.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cynareae
Genus: Cirsium
Species: C. palustre
Binomial name
Cirsium palustre
(L.) Scop.

Cirsium palustre, the marsh thistle[2] or European swamp thistle, is a herbaceous biennial (or often perennial) species of the genus Cirsium.[3][4]

Cirsium palustre is a tall thistle which reaches up to 2 metres (7 ft) in height. The strong stems have few branches and are covered in small spines. In its first year the plant grows as a dense rosette, at first with narrow, entire leaves with spiny, dark purple edges; later, larger leaves are lobed. In the subsequent years the plant grows a tall, straight stem, the tip of which branches repeatedly, bearing a candelabra of dark purple flowers, 10–20 millimetres (0.4–0.8 in) with purple-tipped bracts. In the northern hemisphere these are produced from June to September. The flowers are occasionally white, in which case the purple edges to the leaves are absent.[5]

It is native to Europe where it is particularly common on damp ground such as marshes, wet fields, moorland and beside streams. In Canada and the northern United States, it is an introduced species that has become invasive. It grows in dense thickets that can crowd out slower growing native plants. [6][5][7]


Cirsium palustre is broadly distributed throughout much of Europe and eastward to central Asia. This thistle's occurrence is linked to the spread of human agriculture from the mid-Holocene era or before.[8] It is a constant plant of several fen-meadow plant associations, including the Juncus subnodulosus-Cirsium palustre fen-meadow.[8] The flowers are visited by a wide variety of insects, featuring a generalised pollination syndrome.[9]


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