Dwarf thistle

dwarf thistle

Bill Martin

Dwarf thistle

Scientific name: Cirsium acaule
As its name suggests, the Dwarf thistle is a low-growing plant that is almost stemless - its purple, thistle-like flower heads growing out of a rosette of spiny leaves.

Species information


Height: up to 15cm

Conservation status


When to see

June to September


The Dwarf thistle is a low-growing, almost stemless thistle that is mainly found on chalk grassland, particularly when it is grazed. It displays a singular, reddish-purple flower head that blooms from June to September, growing from a rosette of spiny, hairy leaves.

How to identify

The Dwarf thistle displays a purple, solitary flower head on top of a rosette of spiny, hairy leaves. It is almost stemless, and is very low-growing.


Local distribution in England and South Wales.

Did you know?

The Dwarf thistle is also known as the Stemless Thistle because it looks like it doesn't have a stem at all; its flowers grow from a rosette of leaves, but usually have very short stems, in fact.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition - supporting plants and invertebrates and, in turn, the larger animals that prey on them. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.