TALL THISTLE
File Size: 69 KB
 
Cirsium altissimum   (L. ) Spreng.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Chase County, Kansas
Biennial
Height: 3-8 feet
Family: Asteraceae - Sunflower Family
Flowering Period:   August, September
Also Called: Roadside thistle.
Stems: Erect, large, coarse, branched above, greenish, pubescent.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, short stalked or sessile, lanceolate to elliptic, 4 to 12 inches long, 1.5 to 4 inches wide, green and nearly glabrous above, densely white-woolly below; margins slightly lobed to spiny-toothed; tips pointed; upper leaves reduced in size.
Inflorescences: Solitary urn-shaped heads, 1.5 to 2 inches tall, terminal; bracts overlapping, tipped with small yellow spines.
Flowers: Ray florets absent; disk florets numerous, corollas light or dark rose to purplish.
Fruits: Achenes, brown, tipped with white or gray feather-like bristles, enclosing small seed.
Habitat: Open, moist to dry disturbed areas, roadsides, ditches, pastures, and thickets.
Distribution: East 2/3 of Kansas.
Uses: The Cherokee took an infusion of the leaves for neuralgia, a warm infusion of the roots as an aid for overeating, and used the plumose pappus bristles were to make blow dart tails. Songbirds will eat the seeds.
Comments: Butterflies are often attracted to tall thistle.

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