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Cirsium fontinale

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About Fountain Thistle (Cirsium fontinale) Cirsium fontinale or Fountain thistle is an flowering perennial herb of the Asteraceae family, endemic to a limited region within northern and central California at an elevation not exceeding 750 meters. Occurrences appear limited to serpentine seeps and streams within portions of the San Francisco Bay Area and Outer South Coast Ranges. The Cirsium genus is commonly known as the "thistle" genus, Cirsium being the Greek word for thistle. There are three recognized varieties of this species: All the taxa within Cirsium fontinale have erect stems with leaves very strongly wavy margins. These tall plants may attain a height of 2.2 meters, but may exist in the form of only 0.5 meters. A given plant may have one or more stems, and the plants are sometimes short-lived, dying after flowering only once, even though the species is acknowledged to be perennial. Lower leaves are typically petioled or tapered, but mostly spiny-lobed; petioles are either spiny-lobed or toothed.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
3.6 - 7.2 ft (1.1 - 2.2 m)

Flower Color
Pink, Purple

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
seeps and streams


Elevation ?
122' - 3568'

Annual Precip. ?
14.9" - 31.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.19" - 0.45"

Coldest Month ?
44.8° F - 50.5° F

Hottest Month ?
64.6° F - 73.1° F

Humidity ?
0.61 vpd - 20.13 vpd

Landscaping Information
Common uses
Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Other Names
Common Names
Chorro Creek Bog Thistle

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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