Meadow thistle

Meadow thistle

Meadow thistle © Brian Eversham

Meadow thistle

Scientific name: Cirsium dissectum
On first glance, the meadow thistle looks a bit like a knapweed - it's not as prickly as other thistles and only carries one pinky-purple flower head. It can be found in damp meadows and grasslands.

Species information


Height: up to 80cm

Conservation status


When to see

June to August


Meadow thistle is a small, slender thistle that doesn't have large spines on its leaves - they are more 'sharply toothed' than prickly. A perennial herb, it has a hairy stem and displays a single, pink flower head from June to August. It is usually found in damp meadows and grassland.

How to identify

A short thistle, meadow thistle displays a single, pinky-purple flower head. Its leaves are elliptical and much less prickly than most common thistles, clinging close to the hairy stem or at the base of the plant.


Found in southern England, south Wales and Northern Ireland.

Did you know?

Thistles are excellent plants for supporting wildlife, providing nectar for a wide range of insects and seeds for wintering birds, such as goldfinches.