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Biennials.  Tap-rooted.  Stems and branches are pubescent and spiny-winged.  Typical height is 3 to 6 feet.

Branch inflorescences consist of from 1 to a few flower heads, clustered at tips of branches.

Flower heads are discoid; ray florets are lacking.  Florets are bisexual and fertile; corollas are narrowly-tubular, magenta.  Involucres are 30-40 mm high, globe-shaped or flask-shaped.  Involucral bracts are green, the tips with long (2-5 mm), conspicuous spines.

Basal leaves are often deciduous by flowering.  Stem and branch leaves are alternate, triangular or lanceolate in general outline, often deeply lobed; the lobes rather narrow, often ascending (I.e., leaves are not flat.), spine-tipped; the sinuses often wide.    Upper leaf faces are densely pubescent with short, appressed bristles.

Cypselae are obovoid, straw-colored.  The pappus is of fine, branched (i.e., plumose) bristles.

Plants of fields, roadsides, open disturbed areas.  Flowers July to August.  Not native.

 

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Similar species:  other members of the genus Cirsium.

 

 

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