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Wavy-leaf Thistle

Photo by David Welfelt

Common Name: Wavy-leaf Thistle

Scientific Name: Cirsium undulatum

Family: Aster

Longevity: Biennial

Height: 2 - 3 feet

Bloom Period: June, July, and August


Description: Plants are erect with few branches. Stem and leaves are densely covered with matted white hair. Leaves are 4-12 inches long and deeply lobed with undulating edges armed with prickles. Purple to rose-lavender, thread-like, tubular flowers are crowded into single heads.

Comments: This native thistle is found statewide on upland prairies. The flowers are sweet-smelling and frequented by butterflies, bees and many other insects. American Goldfinches use the fluffy down from the seeds to line their nests. Cattle and horses will often nip the flower buds before they open. Wavy-leaf Thistle roots and stems are said to be tasty either cooked or raw after cleaning and removing spines. Tall Thistle is another native thistle sometimes mistaken for undesirable alien species.