Other names: Common or spear thistle
Life cycle: Biennial
Found in: Pastures throughout the U.S.
General description: An erect spiny plant with reddish-purple flowers.
Seedlings: Cotyledons are egg-shaped. Young leaves form a rosette.
True leaves: Alternate and lanceolate with coarse hairs on top and fine hairs underneath. Leaves have deeply toothed edges and stiff spines.
Flowers and fruit: Flowers are reddish-purple and bloom in clusters or alone at the ends of branches. Fruit is dry and seedlike.