South Dakota Native Plant Research
Asteraceae: Cirsium flodmanii

Asteraceae: Cirsium flodmanii


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Family Name


Common Name

Flodman’s thistle

Native American Name

Lakota: tȟókahu


Cirsium flodmanii is a perennial, deeply taprooted herb with simple stems 30-100 cm tall, branching in the upper portions and covered in cobwebby and wooly white hairs. The plants form colonies by development of buds on the lateral roots. The lower leaf surfaces are covered in grayish wooly hairs. The upper leaf surfaces have a much reduced covering of hairs, making them appear green, and are free of spines. The basal leaves start out nearly entire and are replaced by lobed leaves as the plant matures. The cauline leaves are alternate, petiolate, the blades lanceolate to obovate, 5–20 cm long, 3-7 cm wide, undulate, deeply pinnately lobed to subentire and the margins are irregularly spinose. The leaves are larger at the bottom and become sessile and reduced in size upward. The terminal solitary heads have an involucre, 2-3 cm long, 1.5-2.5 cm wide, of 6-7 rows of bracts, each 5-9 mm long and about 3 mm wide with a prominent dorsal ridge and a spine tip, 2-4 mm long. The heads have only disc flowers, the corolla is purple to pink, 21-36 mm long with 5 lobes 5-9 mm long. the style is exerted from the corolla tube. The fruit is a brownish achene, 4-5 mm long and about 2 mm wide, with a pappus of 2-3 cm long hairs. Flodman’s thistle blooms from July into September in moist meadows, pastures and open sites throughout South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Flodman’s thistle attracts native birds that utilize it as a food source and for materials to build nests. Native bees and butterflies utilize the plants as food and it hosts butterfly larvae. The flowers are quite attractive and it has a low level of spinyness for a thistle. As with most thistles, it may garner angry comments from neighbors.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Collect achenes when thy form hairy tufts on the head.

Germination: Fall sow or give a 60-90 day cold moist treatment before spring planting.

Vegetative propagation: the mature plants form colonies that can be divided.

Light: Full sun.

Soil: Well drained sandy to clay soils.

Water: Moist.

Asteraceae: Cirsium flodmanii