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Nuttalli’s Thistle Cirsium nuttallii

The Nuttall’s Thistle is native to the coastal plain of the southeastern United States extending from southeastern Virginia to Florida to Louisiana.  In Florida, it is found in most of the Peninsular counties, but very few of the Panhandle counties.  These plants like moist pinelands, flatwoods, open fields, and roadsides.

This plant is a very spiny biennial that grows to a height of eight feet.  It appears similar to the Purple Thistle; however, it is taller, more slender and has smaller flower heads.  The flower heads are about 1-inch wide and vary in color from almost white to the more common pale pink.  The disk flowers (no ray flowers) sit on a green base of tight bracts without long spines.  The leaves are sessile, 4-10 inches long and 1-4 inches wide.  They are deeply lobed with sharp spines on the tip of each lobe.  The heads bloom in the spring, summer and fall.  They are also a popular nectar source for various insects.

The photos on this page were taken along Loveland Blvd in Port Charlotte, Charlotte County.  Note: The Plants Database from the USDA does not have any records for these plants in Charlotte County.  I emailed information and photos of this plant to the Plants Database team.

The range distribution maps for Nuttall’s Thistle are from the Plants Database of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).


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