WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

As the common name implies, the prominent, yellow spines on the pink to to creamy white flower head help identify this 1–3 foot tall, well-armed plant. A dense covering of white hairs covers the stem. Note the yellow spines on the leaves reach 3/4 inch long (20 mm).


FLOWERS: April–July. White, red, pink, or purple, tube-like, atop a rounded to oval-shaped head; phyllaries with a whitish mid-stripe and often with hairy margins; tipped with spines to 1/2-inch long (12 mm)


LEAVES: Alternate, smaller up the stem. Blades elliptic to lance-shaped, 4–12-inches long (10–30 cm) by 3/4–3-inches wide (2–8 cm), distinctively gray-hairy above, white-woolly below; blade with 8-15 pairs of lobes with yellow spines 1/8-3/4 inch long (5-20 mm); margins strongly wavy or undulate.


HABITAT: Dry, sandy, gravelly, clay, volcanic soils, pinyon-juniper, pine-oak woodlands, grasslands, roadsides, disturbed areas.


ELEVATION: 3,275-10,000 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CA, CO, KS, NE, NM, OK, SD, TX, UT, WY.


SIMILAR SPECIES: 12 native species of Cirsium in NM, 5 in 3 or less counties, and two introduced. Wavy-leafed thistle, C. undulatum, has spines on the phyllaries  only 3/16-inch long (2–5 mm), and leaves tipped with spines to 1/2-inch long (12 mm) and pronounced undulate margins. Parry’s Thistle, C. parryi, in moist soils at high elevations, has yellow flowers. Several introduced thistles are major noxious weeds.


NM COUNTIES: Statewide except Lea County in low- to high-elevation, dry habitats.

YELLOW-SPINED  THISTLE

CIRSIUM  OCHROCENTRUM

Aster Family, Asteraceae

Biennial herb

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Range Map for

Cirsium ochrocentrum

The 1/2-inch long (12 mm) spines are the longest phyllary spines of any NM thistle.

Twisted leaf lobes are tipped with 3/4-inch long (20 mm), yellow spines.

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