Onopordum acanthium L.

Heraldic Thistle

Sp. Pl. 2: 827 (1753) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Erect annual or biennial to 1 m high; stems winged, whitish, woolly or densely cobwebbed; wings to 15 mm wide, with spines to 5 mm long on lobes. Leaves sessile, mostly cauline, oblong-ovate to broad-lanceolate or ovate in outline, to 35 cm long and 20 cm wide, pinnatifid or toothed, with 6–8 pairs of broad-triangular lobes or teeth, each tipped by a yellowish spine, upper surface grey-green and sparsely woolly, lower surface paler and more densely woolly. Capitula shortly pedunculate, solitary or in clusters of 2 or 3 at ends of stems, subglobose, 3.5–5 cm diam.; involucral bracts subulate, to 2.5 cm long, inner ones erect, outer reflexed, tapered into a yellow spinose apical appendage, base cobwebbed. Florets longer than involucre, purple. Cypselas 4–5 mm long, 4-ribbed, wrinkled, grey with darker mottling; pappus 7–10 mm long, buff. Flowers spring and summer.

*CVU, *EGU, *GipP, *Gold, *HNF, *VVP. Native to Europe, northern Africa and Asia. Widespread in central Victoria, often in pastures and on roadsides, and declared a noxious weed in the State.

The Victorian material has the long florets and broad stem-wing of the type subspecies (Tutin et al. 1976).

Created by: Daniel Ohlsen, 2015-08-21
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Asteranae
order Asterales
family Asteraceae
genus Onopordum
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <http://avh.chah.org.au>. Find Onopordum acanthium in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Onopordum acanthium in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Victorian Volcanic Plain present naturalised
Gippsland Plain present naturalised
Goldfields present naturalised
Central Victorian Uplands present introduced
East Gippsland Uplands present naturalised
Highlands-Northern Fall present naturalised

State distribution

Distribution map
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory