Cirsium horridulum

Photographs belong to the photographers who allow use for FNPS purposes only. Please contact the photographer for all other uses.

Purple Thistle, Yellow Thistle

Asteraceae (Compositae)

Plant Specifics

Size:1-4 ft tall by 1-2 ft wide
Life Span:Biennial
Flower Color:Regionally variable: white, pink, purple, yellow
Fruit Color:White
Phenology:Overwinters as a basal rosette. Blooms in spring.
Noted for:Showy flowers, Interesting foliage, Thorns


Recommended Uses:Natural landscapes including meadows and butterfly gardens.
Considerations:Purple thistle is a thorny plant - be very careful when handling.
Propagation:Readily self seeds. Following pollination the flower head can be bagged to collect the seed head which follows.
Light: Full Sun,  Part Shade
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
 (Somewhat moist, no flooding ----- to ----- Somewhat long very dry periods)
Moisture Tolerance: Somewhat moist, no flooding ----- to ----- Somewhat long very dry periods
Salt Water Flooding Tolerance:Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water.
Salt Spray/ Salty Soil Tolerance:Some tolerance to salty wind but not direct salt spray.
Soil or other substrate:Sand
Soil pH:6.1 - 7.8



The seeds are rich in oil, an important food source for seed-eating birds. 


  • Larval host to little metalmark (Calephelis virginiensis) and painted lady (Vanessa cardui) butterflies.
  • Nectar source for native butterflies and bumblebees.  Bees documented in Florida include  Evylaeus pectoralis, Halictus ligatus, Lithurgzcs gibbosus, Megachile brevis pseudobrevis, and the non-native Apis mellifera (honeybee) (Deyrup et al. 2002).
  • Beetles eat the flowers. 
  • Provides nesting material for some native bees (based on information provided by the Xerces Society to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)

Native Habitats:Coastal plain, edges of salt marshes, pinewoods, prairies and disturbed areas.

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida
USDA Zones

Suitable to grow in:
10A 10B 11 8A 8B 9A 9B 

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures


Ethnobotany:Members of the Seminole tribe used parts of this plant to make blowgun darts.