WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

These 1–3-foot tall, thistles have stout, woolly stems, often with several branches, and thrive in colonies. Each branch has one to three lavender to pinkish-white flower heads in a somewhat flat-topped array. Note the yellow spines on the phyllaries are less than 3/16-inch long. The Sandia Crest population tends to be white.


FLOWERS: May–September. Flower head (involucre) egg- to bell-shaped, 1–2-inches tall and wide, topped with a dense cluster of lavender or creamy white to pink, tubular, thread-like flowers; phyllaries with stubby spines less than 3/16-inch (5 mm) long and a whitish mid-ridge.


LEAVES: Alternate, smaller up the stem. Blades with shallow leaf lobes tipped with yellow spines to 1/2-inch long (12 mm) are thinly woolly-gray above, densely white-woolly below and twist around the midrib giving the plant its common name.


HABITAT: Rocky, sandy soils of fields, roadsides, disturbed areas; shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands, pinyon-juniper, ponderosa pine-fir to subalpine forests.


ELEVATION: 5,000–9,800 feet.


RANGE: Widespread in western U. S.


SIMILAR SPECIES: 12 native species of thistles in NM, 5 in 3 or less counties, and two introduced.. Yellow-spined Thistle, C. ochrocentrum, has phyllaries with yellow, 3/8-inch spines on the flower head and 3/4-inch spines on twisted leaf lobes.


NM COUNTIES: Statewide, except Curry, De Baca, Lea, McKinley.

WAVYLEAF  THISTLE

CIRSIUM  UNDULATUM

Aster Family, Asteraceae

Perennial herb

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Range Map for

Cirsium undulatum

Phyllaries with stubby spines less than 3/16-inch (5 mm) long.

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