Life cycle: Biennial
Found in: Pastures, hay fields and roadsides throughout the U.S.
General description: Tall spiny plant with pink or purple flowers that can reach 6½ feet high.
Seedlings: Cotyledons are rectangular or oblong, with little or no petioles and white veins.
True leaves: In the first year of growth, leaves form a basal rosette, with the first leaves opposite and all other leaves alternate. In the second year, leaves alternate along stems. All leaves are dark green with light green veins, lanceolate and deeply lobed with three to five white or yellow spines along the edge of each lobe. Leaves reach about 10" long.
Flowers and fruit: Flowers are pink or purple, up to 2" across and occur at the ends of branches. Fruit resembles the white puffball of a dandelion.
Special note: Invasive species.