WOOLLY THISTLE

Cirsium eriophorum

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

Flowers:
month8May month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug

Pappus: pappusZpossible (white, compound)
pappus8aug pappus8sep pappus8sept pappus8oct

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8white
 
inner
inner8purple
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZmany
 
type
typeZglobed
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8ribbed
ribbed
stem
stem8spines stem8thorns
spines
contact
contactZlowish
 

11th July 2006, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
A single sturdy stem bears half-a-dozen flower heads at the summit. Leaves up to 60cm long.


17th Aug 2016, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
Just a month more than 10 years later, same place, with the Betchott hills in the background. The flowers now have the purple styles sticking out the top.


17th Aug 2016, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves near the top narrow and nearly linear whilst those nearer the ground are broader but tapering. All are pinnately-lobed with long, stiff, pale-fawn vicious spines. The stem leaves clasp the stem.


11th July 2006, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are narrow and linear with single-fractal narrow linear branches.


11th July 2006, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
There are long thin buff-coloured spines at the end of each leaflet, which are themselves covered in short whitish hairs.


11th July 2006, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
The flowers themselves consist of a tight torus of spines wrapped in purple florets but for the short end. Each spine is entwined in a mesh of fine woolly hairs.


11th July 2006, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
The flower head, 40-70mm across, is almost spherical apart from the slightly flattened pole where the Fibonacci spiral of spines begins. It will later gain a a tuft of long purple styles atop like most Thistles.


11th July 2006, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
Fibonacci spiral of spines around a torus likens to a Black Hole.


17th Aug 2016, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
Each sharp spine in the woolly globular head is en-snarled in a tangled net of fine white hairs each connected to its nearest neighbouring spines many-fold-over in a vast tangled network. There exist some voids between the spines where few fibres cross.
Your author surmises that the web of cottony threads between the wiry green bracts on the flower head forms akin to to the way drying Evoslurp™ glue dries: with a semi-viscous liquid between them at first, then, as the bracts grow and part from each other, the liquid is stretched whereupon the surface tension dictates that it forms threads between parting bracts, which then either dries, polymerises or oxidises into the threads seen, much as does Evoslurp™ glue when two recently coated surfaces are parted. Upon close inspection, many cells that are formed seem to be square, and moreover no threads seem to form between diametrically opposite bracts (there are voids in the middle of each nearest-neighbour group of spines which are devoid of threads), which must mean those diametrically opposite bracts were never originally in contact with each other. It is possible the bracts themselves exude the semi-liquid viscous fluid. The Author does not know if his theory is correct, but it seems logical Captain Kirk™. Spear Thistles, Globe Thistles and Cobweb Houseleeks also have networks of woolly threads between an array of bracts.


17th Aug 2016, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
The white blobs caught in the sticky webs of this specimen may be the pollen. Those orange chromosome-shaped objects also trapped might possibly be stray anthers of this plant, or from another plant entirely, your Author does not know.


17th Aug 2016, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD


17th Aug 2016, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
All leaves clasp the stem. The stem is without wings.


17th Aug 2016, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
The long styles emerge from darker-purple 5-toothed sheaths


11th July 2006, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves are dark green, linear, 1-pinnate with a sharp thin spine at the tip.


17th Aug 2016, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are dark-green with very pale mid-ribs and with bristly hairs. The lobes also have pale midribs which extend beyond the tip of the leaf to become the long spines.


17th Aug 2016, Golden Valley, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
Underneath, the leaves are woolly white, these specimens having suffered damage from being partially slain.


Not to be semantically confused with : Common Cotton-Grass (Eriophorum angustifolium) which belongs in the Genus Eriophorum with other Cottongrasses which simply means 'woolly', as is Woolly Thistle.

Hybridises with: Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) to produce Cirsium × grandiflorum Distinguishing Feature : Amongst thistles, this one has flower heads with a tight toroidal 'sphere' of spines entwined in a mesh of fine white woolly hairs. These spines have a short purple sleeve near the tip: the florets.


  Cirsium eriophorum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Asteraceae  

Distribution
family8Daisy family8Dandelion  family8Asteraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Cirsium
Cirsium
(Thistles)

WOOLLY THISTLE

Cirsium eriophorum

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

WildFlowerFinder Homepage