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Onopordum acanthium L.
Family Asteraceae
Common name: Scotch Thistle

Onopordum acanthium L. APNI*

Description: Biennial taprooted herb to 1 m high; stems woolly or densely cobwebby, with continuous spinose wings c. 10 mm wide.

Leaves mostly cauline, lanceolate, 10–35 cm long, 3–10 cm wide, margins toothed with numerous robust spines to 10 mm long, base decurrent on stem, lower surface more densely tomentose than upper surface.

Heads solitary or in clusters of 2 or 3, on peduncles to 3 cm long; involucral bracts subulate, to 2.5 cm long, tomentose at base, tapered into a spreading to suberect yellowish spine. Florets purple.

Achenes obovoid, 4–5 mm long, 4-ribbed; pappus bristles 7–9 mm long, barbellate.


Flowering: August–December

Distribution and occurrence: Weed of cultivated areas; widespread, south from Moree. Native of Eur., N Afr., & Asia.
NSW subdivisions: *CC, *NT, *CT, *ST, *CWS, *SWS, *NWP, *SWP, *SFWP
Other Australian states: *Vic. *Tas. *S.A.
AVH map***

A declared noxious weed in many shires.

Text by L. Murray
Taxon concept:

N.S.W. occurrences are: subsp. acanthium

APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.
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