Cirsium vulgare

Cirsium vulgare_bull thistle_flowering stem_JM DiTomaso
Photo courtesy Joseph DiTomaso

Synonyms: Carduus lanceolatus, Cirsium lanceolatum

Common names: bull thistle

Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle) is a perennial or biennial forb (family Asteraceae) Bull thistle is widespread in California and is most common in coastal grasslands, along edges of fresh and brackish marshes, and in meadows and mesic forest openings in the mountains below 7,000 feet (2,120 m). It is most troublesome in recently or repeatedly disturbed areas such as pastures, overgrazed rangelands, recently burned forests and forest clearcuts, and along roads, ditches, and fences. Besides out-competing native plant species for water, nutrients, and space, the presence of bull thistle in hay decreases feeding value and lowers market price.

Cal-IPC Rating: Moderate

Cal-IPC Assessment

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.

Weed RIC Management Notes

  • Management Notes - Information on management techniques and effectiveness from the University of California Cooperative Extension’s Weed Research & Information Center.

Cal-IPC Newsletter Articles

Cal-IPC Symposium Presentations

  • Carrithers, V., B. Miller, et al. (2005). Aminopyralid: A new reduced risk active ingredient for control of broadleaf invasive and noxious weeds. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2005. Chico, CA.
  • Carrithers, V. F. (1997). Using Transline* herbicide to control invasive plants. California Exotic Pest Plant Council Symposium '97. Concord, CA.
  • Clines, J., J. DiTomaso, et al. (2004). Fire working group. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2004. Ventura, California, CA.
  • Connick, S. and M. Gerel (2004). Partnering to prevent invasions of plants of horticultural origin. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2004. Ventura, CA.
  • Donaldson, S., W. West, et al. (2003). Getting the job done: Working within the regulatory environment at Lake Tahoe to manage weeds. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2003. Kings Beach, CA.
  • Gluesenkamp, D. A. (2000). Factors controlling the relative abundance of two thistle species: Evaluating non-exclusive hypotheses for success of an introduced invader. California Exotic Pest Plant Council Symposium 2000. Concord, CA.
  • Pickart, A. (2003). A decade of dune restoration at the Lanphere Dunes. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2003. Kings Beach, CA.
  • Pirosko, C. and S. Schoenig (2004). Forbs working group. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2004. Ventura, CA.

Other Cirsium vulgare Information

  • CalPhotos - Images of plants taken mostly in California.
  • Calflora - See the distribution of this species on Calflora's map of California.
  • CalWeedMapper - Distribution information with ability to determine regional priorities.
  • Jepson Online Interchange for California Flora - Information on taxonomy, biology, and distribution from UC Berkeley's Jepson Herbarium.
  • CDFA - California official noxious weeds.
  • USDA PLANTS Database - Federal database with information on identification and distribution, and links to websites in individual states.