Silybum marianum (L.) Gaertn.

Variegated Thistle

Fruct. Sem. Pl. 2: 378, t. 158 (1791) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Erect biennial to 2.5 m high. Leaves with white veins and blotches, sparsely hairy above, duller and hairier below; basal leaves oblanceolate, to 60 cm long and 25 cm wide, pinnatifid, a small spine on each ultimate lobe, petiolate; cauline leaves smaller and less deeply divided, ultimately sessile, base amplexicaul. Capitula 3–5 cm diam.; peduncles to 30 cm long; involucral bracts lanceo-late to elliptic, to 5 cm long, glabrous; outer bracts with a spreading or recurved apical spine; inner bracts with an ovate, acute or acuminate apical appendage. Florets purple, rarely white. Cypselas 5–8 mm long, shiny, brown or black with a yellow ring at apex, mottled; pappus 12–20 mm long. Flowers mostly Sep.–Jan

*CVU, *DunT, *EGL, *EGU, *GipP, *Glep, *Gold, *GGr, *HNF, *HSF, *LoM, *MonT, *MuF, *MuM, *NIS, *OtP, *OtR, *Strz, *VAlp, *VRiv, *VVP, *WaP, *Wim. Also naturalised WA, SA, Qld, NSW, ACT, Tas., New Zealand. Native to southern Europe and northern Africa. Scattered widely through much of the State, often in moist situations, on roadsides, wasteland and pastures. Declared a noxious weed in Victoria.

Source: Jeanes, J.A. (1999). Asteraceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 4, Cornaceae to Asteraceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Daniel Ohlsen, 2017-05-31
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Asteranae
order Asterales
family Asteraceae
genus Silybum
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Silybum marianum in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Silybum marianum in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Lowan Mallee present introduced
Murray Mallee present naturalised
Wimmera present naturalised
Glenelg Plain present naturalised
Victorian Volcanic Plain present naturalised
Victorian Riverina present naturalised
Murray Fans present naturalised
Gippsland Plain present naturalised
Otway Plain present naturalised
Warrnambool Plain present naturalised
Goldfields present naturalised
Central Victorian Uplands present naturalised
Greater Grampians present naturalised
Dundas Tablelands present naturalised
Northern Inland Slopes present naturalised
East Gippsland Lowlands present naturalised
East Gippsland Uplands present naturalised
Highlands-Southern Fall present naturalised
Highlands-Northern Fall present naturalised
Otway Ranges present naturalised
Strzelecki Ranges present naturalised
Monaro Tablelands present naturalised
Victorian Alps present naturalised

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory