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Cirsium neomexicanum
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Desert Thistle
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Cirsium neomexicanum

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About Desert Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum) Cirsium neomexicanum is a North American species of thistle known by the common names New Mexico thistle, powderpuff thistle, lavender thistle, foss thistle and desert thistle. This plant is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, particularly the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. It has been found in California, Nevada, Arizona, Sonora, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Cirsium neomexicanum is a tall plant, routinely exceeding 2 metres (6. 6 ft) in height. It erects a stem which may have webby fibers and long, stiff spines. The sparse leaves are greenish-gray, hairy, and very spiny. Atop the mainly naked stems are inflorescences of one or more large flower heads with rounded bases and phyllaries covered in long, curving spines. The largest heads may be up to 5 centimeters (2 inches)in diameter. They are packed with white or lavender disc florets but no ray florets. The fruit is a flat brown achene with a long pappus which may reach 2 centimeters long. Unlike many other thistles, this species tends not to be a troublesome noxious weed.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Perennial herb

Max. Height
6.6 - 8.2 ft (2 - 2.5 m)

Flower Color
Pink, Purple

Native Status

Natural Setting
Elevation ?
449' - 6930'

Annual Precip. ?
4.0" - 25.4"

Summer Precip. ?
0.62" - 2.93"

Coldest Month ?
30.1° F - 60.0° F

Hottest Month ?
57.4° F - 87.5° F

Humidity ?
1.11 vpd - 40.42 vpd

Landscaping Information
Nursery Availability
Never or Almost Never Available

Other Names
Common Names
Powderpuff Thistle, New Mexico Thistle, Lavender Thistle, Foss 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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