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Genus Carduus Family Asteraceae

Description: Erect annuals to perennial herbs; stems with spiny wings; hairs multicellular or cobwebby.

Leaves basal and cauline, alternate, toothed to deeply pinnatisect, spines on lobe apices.

Heads terminal, solitary, or in dense clusters and sessile; heads cylindrical to hemispherical; involucral bracts many-seriate, unequal, rigid and spine-tipped; receptacle flat, densely hairy. Florets all tubular, bisexual, fertile, 5-lobed, purple to pink.

Achenes ovoid, striate, glabrous; pappus of numerous simple bristles in several rows, basally united into a ring.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 100 species, Europe & Asia. Australia: 4 species (naturalized), all States except N.T.

The record of C. macrocephalus is unsabstantiated.

Text by L. Murray
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Flower heads hemispherical, 2–5 cm diam.; leaves concolorous, sparsely hairy on both surfacesCarduus nutans
Flower heads cylindrical, c. 1 cm diam.; leaves green and pubescent above, white and cobwebby below2
2Flower heads on short terete peduncles; wings on stems more or less discontinuous and broken into spiny lobes to 5 mm wideCarduus pycnocephalus
Flower heads sessile; wings on stems continuous with spiny lobes to 10 mm wide
                       Back to 1
Carduus tenuiflorus

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