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Plants of wet soils, mostly open or open wooded.  Flowers July to August.  Native.

Biennial.  Taprooted.  Stems are pubescent with spreading hairs, but not spiny-winged.  Typical height is 3 to 6 feet.

Inflorescences consist of small clusters of flower heads located toward the tips of ascending branches or in leaf axils.

Flower heads are discoidRay florets are lackingInvolucres are 17 to 30 mm high.  Florets are bisexual and fertile; corollas are tubular, 5-lobed; typically purple/magenta.  Involucral bracts are appressed, tipped with spines shorter than 1 mm.

Basal leaves are usually deciduous by flowering.  Stem and branch leaves are alternate, lanceolate in general outline, deeply lobed.  Lobes are narrow, ascending, spiny-margined and spine-tipped.  Leaves are not flat.

The pappus is of numerous, fine, branched bristles (appearing feather-like).

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Similar species:  other members of the genus Cirsium.

 

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