Cirsium virginianum

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Common names: Virginia Thistle

Cirsium virginianum
Cirsium virginianum SEF.jpg
Photo by the Southeastern Flora Plant Database
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Cirsium
Species: C. virginianum
Binomial name
Cirsium virginianum
Natural range of Cirsium virginianum from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Taxonomic Notes

Synonyms: Carduus virginianus Linnaeus, Cirsium revolutum (Small) Petrak.[1]

Varieties: none.[1]


C. virginianum is a biennial forb in the Asteraceae family native to the southeast United States[2] that can reach heights up to 6 feet tall.[3] The stem has white cobweb-like hairs, and leaves are spiny-edged, dissected or uncut, and the underside is white with short dense hairs. The purple or pink flowers occur in dense heads.[4]


C. virginianum can be found along the southeast United States, ranging from Texas to New Jersey. However, it is mostly found in the Carolinas [2].



C. virginianum is listed as a facultative wetland species, but can occasionally can be found in non-wetlands.[2] Habitats include moist to fairly dry pine savannas and bogs[5] such as pine wiregrass or saw palmetto flatwoods, ecotones between upland and streamheads, and ecotones between uplands and pocosins.[4] The species has been observed in to grow in disturbed areas.[6]

Associated species include Hyptis alata, Myrica cerifera var. cerifera, Iva microcephala, Tridens ambiguus, Serenoa repens, Rudbeckia nitida, Galium aparine, Vicia angustifolia, Geranium carolinianum, and Trifolium campestre. [6]


C. virginianum typically flowers from August to October [5], but has been observed to flower as early as April [6].

Fire ecology

The species has been observed in to grow in areas that are burned annually [6].

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

This species is listed as endangered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Energy. It is also considered a noxious weed by the Arkansas State Plant Board and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.[2]

Cultural use

The leaves and stems can be cooked, so keeping it as a potherb is a possibility.[7]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draft of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 USDA Plants Database URL:
  3. [[1]] Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Accessed: April 8, 2019
  4. 4.0 4.1 [[2]] NatureServe Explorer. Accessed: April 8, 2019
  5. 5.0 5.1 Weakley, A. S. (2015). Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Chapel Hill, NC, University of North Carolina Herbarium.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: May 2018. Collectors: Robert K. Godfrey, R. Komarek, B. A. Sorrie, L. G. Chafin, L. G. Chafin, and C. Pederson. States and Counties: Georgia: Thomas and Worth. Florida: Clay and Escambia.
  7. Fernald, et al. 1958. Edible Plants of Eastern North America. Harper and Row Publishers, New York.