Meadow Thistle (Cirsium dissectum)

A wetland plant threatened by nutrient enrichment and vegetation overgrowth

Latin name: Cirsium dissectum 

Description/identification

Meadow thistle © Wikimedia commons

Meadow thistle is a creeping perennial herb, up to 60cm tall, with characteristic purple flower heads. The basal leaves are arranged in a rosette, with each leaf being finely toothed, elliptical-lanceolate in shape, green and hairy on top, and whitish underneath. Each plant has one flower head on a cottony stem. The flower head is made up of pink-purple disc florets and can be seen from June-July.

Habitat

Meadow thistle can be found in damp grasslands, fen-meadows, and peat bogs on acidic-neutral soils. This species prefers habitats with a mix of vegetation heights and open ground.

Distribution and threats

Meadow thistle is predominantly found in southern areas of the UK, being most common in South Wales and South West England, and becomes scarce further north in the UK. This species is listed as Least Concern in the Red Data Book for Great Britain and England but is increasingly threatened by landscape fragmentation and declining habitat quality due to nutrient enrichment and vegetation overgrowth. In Oxfordshire, Meadow thistle is listed as a rare plant and is only found at a few scattered sites in the county.