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Biennials.  Stems are pubescent with long, spreading hairs, but not spiny-winged.  Typical height is 2 to 3 feet.

InflorescencesFlower heads are borne singly at the stem summit, or in small clusters of a few heads at the tips of branches.  Branches are ascending.

Flower heads are discoidRay florets are lacking.  Florets are bisexual and fertile; corollas are tubular, with 5 spreading lobes; typically purple/magenta.  Involucres are 35 to 50 mm high;  closely subtended by leaflike bractsInvolucral bracts are appressed, tipped with spines longer than 1 mm.

Basal leaves may be present at flowering.  Stem and branch leaves are alternate, elliptic in general outline, lobed; the lobes are often ascending (I.e., leaves are not flat.) and spine-tipped;  Generally, leaf margins are spiny.

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

Plants of fields, roadsides, open disturbed areas, often in dry ground.  Flowers July to August.  Native.  Our plants are variety pumilum.

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Similar species:  other members of the genus Cirsium.

 

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