IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This biennial or short-lived perennial plant initially forms a low rosette of spiny basal leaves up to 1' across. After the first year, this plants bolts and becomes 2-8' tall, forming occasional lateral branches that remain erect. The light green stems have white hairs, but they are without spines. The alternate leaves are quite spiny, pinnately lobed, and up to 9" long and 3" across. They are green on the upper surface, but powdery white on the lower surface because of minute fine hairs. Flowerheads with little or no scent occur individually on erect flowering stems in the upper part of the plant. These flowerheads are about 2" across and light pink (rarely white), consisting of numerous disk florets. At the base of each flowerhead, there are overlapping floral bracts (phyllaries) that are light green with white central veins; they resemble fish scales. Each floral bract has a single golden spine that is slender, but sharp. Underneath the base of each flowerhead, there are a few leafy bracts that resemble the alternate leaves, but they are smaller in size and more ascending. The blooming period is from late summer to fall, lasting about a month for individual plants. The achenes develop with tufts of white hair, which facilitates their dispersal by wind. The root system consists of a central taproot and some coarse secondary roots. Vegetative spread by rhizomes does not occur. Cultivation


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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