MARSH THISTLE

Cirsium palustre

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

Flowers:
month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept month8Oct

Pappus: pappusZpossible (white, simple)
pappus8aug pappus8sep pappus8sept pappus8oct pappus8nov

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8purple
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZmany
 
type
typeZclustered
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8winged
 
stem
stem8spines stem8thorns
prickles
contact
contactZlowish
 

31st May 2008, Druce, Newtown, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
var. ferox There are two varieties of Marsh Thistle, the var. ferox which is the shorter (up to 50cm one book says, but your Author thinks it double that) with usually no or only a few flowering branches, the main infloresecence being at the top of the main stem with many florets all crowded together.


31st May 2008, Druce, Newtown, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Geoff Toone
var. ferox where the main infloresecence is at the top of the main stem with many florets all crowded together.


21st June 2008, Cranmore, IoW. Photo: (CC by 2.0) Mike Cotterill
var. paluste. The other variety is var. palustre which is typical of the upland forms which grow much taller (up to 2m), are well branched with long branches at the ends of which are much smaller clusters of flowers.


22nd July 2014, Upper Wessenden Valley, Marsden, West Yorks. Photo: © RWD
var. ferox. Over 2m high, long branches with small bunches of flowers on ends.


5th May 2011, Little Langdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
var. ferox. The tall well branched upland variety with a smaller bunch of flowers on each end.


5th May 2011, Little Langdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
var. ferox. One of the many long branches with just a few flowers at the end.


5th May 2011, Little Langdale Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
var. ferox. Even although these flowers are purple, in this instance neither the leaves nor the stems are infused with the purple pigment, as otherwise often occurs. The spines are painful. The intermittent wings on the stem are present all the way along the stem from top to bottom.


1st July 2015, nr Grindleford, dark Peaks. Photo: © RWD
var. ferox. White and Purple versions. The white version is quite common. Whereas the red version has most parts, including the stem, infused with purple, the white version lacks any purple colouration allowing the stems and branches to remain green and the flowers white.


15th July 2005, fields, Carnforth, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
var. palustre. White version of the palustre form; shorter, little branched, more clustered flowerheads, no purple (except in the case of the rightmost specimen on the inner florets).


15th July 2005, fields, Carnforth, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
var. palustre. White version with only the tips of the inner florets expressing the purple colouration. [Sometimes there is a half-way house between purple and white where the flowers are pink instead].


15th July 2005, fields, Carnforth, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
var. palustre. White version with only the tips of the inner florets expressing the purple colouration.


7th June 2008, Rushton Spencer, Staffs. Photo: © RWD
var. palustre. A bunch of the shorter variety with few branches (there are leaves though) and a concentrated dense bunch of many flowers at the summit.


7th June 2008, Rushton Spencer, Staffs. Photo: © RWD
var. palustre. The tight bunch of crowded flowers at the summit.


3rd July 2010, Arnside Knott, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
var. palustre. Another example of the tight cluster of flowers at the summit.


17th June 2013, ex-gravel quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
var. ferox? var. palustre?. Possibly the tallest specimen your Author has encountered, well above 2m high. It is possibly var. ferox, but uncharacteristically with many branches more like var. palustre, each with just a few flowers in small bunches at the tips. So - a half-way-house ...


17th June 2013, ex-gravel quarry, Darcy Lever, Bolton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
var. ferox? var. palustre?. The half-way-house with dense numerous inflorescence at top and many side branches with smaller bunches of inflorescence (but more than the usual less than 5).


20th June 2012, Whaley Bridge, Dark Peaks. Photo: © RWD
Upper leaves usually narrower and less lobed than the lower stem leaves.


Photo: © RWD
Basal rosette Being young and probably needing to protect itself from strong sunlight the basal leaves are usually well flushed with a red dye making them darker-green in colour, which seems to have been taken to extreme in the centre where the newer parts are growing.


Photo: © RWD
Basal rosette Leaves deeply lobed and spined.



A FASCIATED EXAMPLE

 Mutations Menu

22nd July 2014, Upper Wessenden Valley, Marsden, West Yorks. Photo: © RWD
Fasciated specimen only one branch has been fasciated with inflorescences all along one stem. Fasciation can be due to physical damage (as is suspected here) or weedkillers, virii, an infection, infestation, or several other causes.


22nd July 2014, Upper Wessenden Valley, Marsden, West Yorks. Photo: © RWD
Fasciated specimen - the branch (main stem?), which is fasciated with a proliferation of spines, wings and flowers, all on very short or absent stalks.


Easily confused with :

Hybridizes with :

  • Meadow Thistle (Cirsium dissectum) to produce Cirsium × forsteri which unusually for a thistle hybrid is not uncommon (with both parents) in Ireland and Southern Britain and is actually the commonest hybrid thistle in the UK. It has an interrupted wings on the stem which are spiny and like Meadow Thistle the stems are cottony-hairy, with leaves intermediate between the two.
  • Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense) to produce Cirsium × celakovskianum
  • Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) to produce Cirsium × subspinuligerum
  • Dwarf Thistle (Cirsium aucale) to produce Cirsium × kirschlegeri
  • Tuberous Thistle (Cirsium tuberosum) to produce Tuberous Marsh-Thistle

Lookee-Likees :

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : Usually tall and bolt upright with either masses of flowers bunched at the top of the main stem, or smaller close bunches of flowers on shorter specimens which are many-branched with a small bunch of fewer flowers on every branch.

It grows in marshes and wet places but also in much drier ground such as damp places, heavily grazed moorland and damp woodland. It is common throughout the UK and because it occurs almost everywhere, it is best to say where it isn't found: parts of Lincolnshire and parts of the high mountains in north Scotland.


  Cirsium palustre  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Asteraceae  

Distribution
family8Daisy family8Dandelion  family8Asteraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Cirsium
Cirsium
(Thistles)

MARSH THISTLE

Cirsium palustre

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

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