Carthamus lanatus

Carthamus lanatus_Woolly distaff thistle_flowerhead_JM DiTomaso
Photo courtesy Joseph DiTomaso

Synonyms: Carthamus lanatus ssp. lanatus

Common names: woolly distaff thistle; false starthistle; saffron thistle; woolly safflower; woolly starthistle

Carthamus lanatus (woolly distaff thistle) is a winter annual forb (family Asteraceae) found in disturbed open sites, roadsides, pastures, annual grasslands, and waste areas. Its spiny foliage can injure livestock. It is primarily found in the northern coast ranges of California.

Rating: High

Cal-IPC Resources

  • Plant Assessment Form - Information gathered by Cal-IPC on the impacts, rate of spread, and distribution of invasive plants in California. Does not include management information.
  • CalWeedMapper - Statewide maps, climate models, and reports.
  • Cal-IPC News - Our quarterly newsletter. Each issue is available as a pdf.
  • Cal-IPC Symposium Proceedings - Presentations and papers from our annual Symposium.
  • Don't Plant a Pest! - Select your region to find non-invasive alternatives to ornamental species. Also see our statewide brochure on trees.

    Other Resources

    • USDA PLANTS database -
      Federal database with information on identification and distribution, and links to websites in individual states.
    • Jepson Online Interchange for California Flora - Information on taxonomy, biology, and distribution from the UC Berkeley Jepson Herbarium.
    • CalFlora - Distribution information by county based on submitted observations and herbarium specimens.
    • Encycloweedia - Plants rated as noxious weeds by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
    • CalPhotos - Images of plants taken mostly in California.

    Symposium Presentations

    • Cooper, V. K. and B. J. Moritsch (1999). Weeding the wilderness: Non-native plant management at Point Reyes National Seashore. California Exotic Pest Plant Council Symposium '99. Sacramento, CA.
    • DiTomaso, J. M. (2004). 2004 Cal-IPC Red Alert! New invasions, recent expansions, and a few others to be on the look-out for. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2004. Ventura, CA.

    Cal-IPC News Articles

    • None for this species.