Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Yellowspine Thistle has flowers that might be pink, purple, white or lavender. This species has 1 to few floral heads. Cirsium ochrocentrum Yellowspine Thistle blooms from May to October across its broad geographic range of distribution. Cirsium ochrocentrum Yellowspine Thistle and all thistles of the genus Cirsium are important as a group as they are frequently visited by pollinators such as Native bees, bumblebees and a very large numbers of insects and butterflies. Thistle floral heads are magnets for insects of all kinds. Cirsium ochrocentrum Yellowspine Thistle leaves are grayish-white (tomentose), alternate and with a variable shape from oblong to narrowly elliptic, note as shown in the photo they are also strongly undulate. Cirsium ochrocentrum Yellowspine Thistle leaves are coarsely dentate or shallowly to deeply pinnatifid (8-15 paired lobes). Note the spines are sharp and yellowish; lowers sides are whitish (tomentose) and the upper sides are grayish-tomentose. Cirsium ochrocentrum Yellowspine Thistle: Most southwestern native thistles are non-aggressive; non-invasive and beneficial as pollinators that have evolved to thrive without becoming weedy. Many native thistles are now threatened with some species at risk of extinction. Cirsium ochrocentrum

Scientific Name: Cirsium ochrocentrum
Common Name: Yellowspine Thistle

Also Called: Spanish: Cardo

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Carduus ochrocentrus, Carduus undulatus var. undulatus, Cnicus ochrocentrus, Cnicus undulatus var. ochrocentrus )

Status: Native

Duration: Biennial or perennial.

Size: Up to 3 feet (30-90 cm)

Growth Form: Forb/herb stems 1 to 20, erect or ascending; stems densely gray-tomentose.

Leaves: Grayish-white tomentose; alternate, shape variable, oblong to narrowly elliptic, strongly undulate; margins coarsely dentate or shallowly to deeply pinnatifid with 8 to 15 pairs of lobes; main spine sharp and yellowish, lower surface white-tomentose, upper surface grayish-tomentose.

Flower Color: Pink, purple, white or lavender; heads solitary or few, flowering stalk (peduncle) 0 to 4 cm, bracts or phyllaries around floral heads linear or lanceolate always with sharp yellow spines; fruit a cypsela (kind of an achene).

Flowering Season: May to October

Elevation: 4,500 to 8,000 feet

Habitat Preferences: Disturbed areas, pinyon-juniper communities, open areas, fields, roadsides.

Recorded Range: Yellowspine Thistle is found mostly in the southern half of the western United States in AZ, CA, CO, KS, NE, NM, OK, SD, TX, UT and WY. It may also be found in northern Mexico. In Arizona, Yellowspine Thistle is found in the northern and southern parts of the state and in Graham County.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Cirsium ochrocentrum.

U.S. Weed Information: Cirsium ochrocentrum is listed in: Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains, Weeds of the United States and Canada, and Weeds of the West. In addition, rhe entire genus Cirsium is listed as a Noxious Weed by the States of Arkansas and Iowa. Plants included here are invasive or noxious. ∗ See Comments section below.Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.

Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: In North America Cirsium ochrocentrum is listed as a noxious weed by the State of California. In addition, the entire genus Cirsium is listed as a Noxious Weed by the States of Arkansas and Iowa. Plants included here are invasive or noxious. ∗ See Comments section below.

Wetland Indicator: No data available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available

Genus Information: In North America there are 91 species for Cirsium. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 481 accepted species names and a further 812 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus. The genus Cirsium was published by Philip Miller in 1754.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and New Mexico each have 19 species of genus, California has 27 species, Nevada has 16 species, Texas has 12 species, Utah has 23 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

There are 2 sub-species of Cirsium ochrocentrum ;
Cirsium ochrocentrum ssp. martinii, (AZ, NM);
Cirsium ochrocentrum ssp. ochrocentrum, (mostly southwestern United States west of the Missisippi);

Comments: Yellowspine Thistle is a common upland thistle is Arizona at elevations above 4,500 feet.

∗The genus Cirsium has received adverse notoriety because of the introduction of two thistles native to Europe and now widespread throughout North America. The Canadian Thistle, Cirsium arvense and the Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare are both listed as noxious primarily by agricultural interests.

Most southwestern native thistles are non-aggressive; non-invasive and beneficial as pollinators that have evolved to thrive without becoming weedy. Many native thistles are now threatened with some species at risk of extinction.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see; Arizona Thistle, Cirsium arizonicum, Graham's Thistle Cirsium grahamii, Mojave Thistle, Cirsium mohavense and New Mexico Thistle, Cirsium neomexicanum.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Thistles of the genus Cirsium are regularly visited by many wildlife species such as small mammals, hummingbirds and nectar-feeding bats. Also the seeds are attractive to small mammals and finches such as American goldfinch.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Thistles of the genus Cirsium are important as a group as they are frequently visited by pollinators such as Native bees, bumblebees and a very large numbers of insects and butterflies. "Monarch butterflies visit native thistle flowers more than any other wildflowers in some regions during their migration back to Mexico". They are also heavily used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly) species. In addition to food Cirsium also provides nesting material and structure for Native bees and other insects.

To find out more about Butterflies and Moths of North America visit BAMONA.
For excellent information on invertebrate conservation visit The Xerces Society.

Etymology:
The genus Cirsium is derived from the Greek words kirsion "a kind of thistle" in turn from kirsos, "a swollen vein or welt," as thistles are used as a remedy for such issues. The genus Cirsium was published by Philip Miller in 1754.

The species epithet ochrocentrum means with an ochre-colored center.

Ethnobotany
Yellowspine Thistle was used as a treatment for sores and a multitude of other purposes by the Kiowa and Zuni Nations.
  • Kiowa Drug, Burn Dressing and as a wash for sores, Decoction of blossoms used as wash for burns and used as a wash for sores.
  • Kiowa Other, Protection, Blossoms used to cover graves of those recently buried to keep the wolves from digging up the body.
  • Kiowa Food, Unspecified, Roots used for food.
  • Zuni Drug, Contraceptive,Infusion of root taken by both partners as a contraceptive.
  • Zuni Drug, Emetic/Diaphoretic/Venereal Aid,Infusion of whole plant taken as a diaphoretic for syphilis.
  • Zuni Drug, Misc. Disease Remedy,Infusion of fresh or dried root taken three times a day for diabetes.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 9/29/2012; updated 02/12/2020
    References:
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 02/06/2020)
    https://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch (for Cirsium)
    https://plants.usda.gov/java/stateSearch (for Cirsium)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; http://www.theplantlist.org/ (accessed 02/06/2020).
    http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Compositae/Cirsium/
    David J. Keil 2012, Cirsium vulgare, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=2285, accessed on February 12, 2020.
    David J. Keil, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 19, 20 and 21 | Asteraceae | Cirsium; 24. Cirsium ochrocentrum; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet http://www.wildflower.org/plants/ (accessed 02/12/2020). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=CIOC2
    'Cirsium ochrocentrum', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 June 2018, 06:16 UTC,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cirsium_ochrocentrum&oldid=847850560 [accessed 12 February 2020]
    FNA 2006, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Kearny and Peebles 1979, Heil et al 2013 from SEINet
    http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?taxon=43&clid=2899
    'Cirsium', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 January 2020, 15:17 UTC,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cirsium&oldid=937520470 [accessed 7 February 2020]
    SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations, http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/
    Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 02/12/2020)
    http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/pageCA-CH.html
    http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/pageO.html