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Cirsium Mill.


Cirsium japonicum var. australe

Credit: HAST

Perennial or biennial prickly herbs, simple or few-branched. Leaves alternate, serrate-dentate or pinnatifid, often very spinescent. Heads large, heterogamous, many flowered, discoid, long-peduncled, florets uniform, bisexual. Involucre globose or ovoid, bracts in many series, appressed, erect, spreading or recurved, prickly tipped or unarmed. Receptacle flat or convex, densely bristly. Corolla slender, purple, pink, white or yellow, tube slender, limb equal or obliquely 5-lobed. Filaments hairy or rarely glabrous; anthers sagittate at base, auricles connate, lacerate. Style branches short, obtuse. Achenes glabrous, obovoid, obtusely 4-angled, glabrous, smooth or ribbed, truncate apically, base areolate, nearly straight. Pappus copious, bristles in many series, slender, feathery, deciduous with a basal ring.

About 250 species in Eurasia, northern and eastern Africa and North America; in Taiwan, nine species, one of which is represented by two varieties.


1 Leaves densely white cottony on lower surfaces.   (2)
+ Leaves subglabrous, hairy or cobwebby on both surfaces.   (4)
2 (1) Apex of inner involucral bracts dilated, scarious; leaves linear.   Cirsium lineare
+ Apex of inner involucral bracts acuminate; leaves broad.   (3)
3 (2) Heads nodding; involucral bracts with linear viscid glands on outer surface   Cirsium suzukii
+ Heads erect; involucral bracts not glandular   Cirsium hosokawae
4 (1) Limb of corolla shorter than tube.   (5)
+ Limb of corolla longer than or equal to tube.   (7)
5 (4) Leaves more or less cobwebby, pinnatilobed; involucral bracts barely spiny; corolla 20-25 mm long.   Cirsium morii
+ Leaves not cobwebby, usually pinnatifid; involucral bracts spiny; corolla less than 20 mm long.   (6)
6 (5) Corolla limb capillary, ca. 0.5 mm wide; spine of involucral bracts 5-15 mm long; anthers 3 mm long.   Cirsium ferum
+ Corolla limb broadened, 1 mm wide; spine of involucral bracts less than 5 mm long; anthers 6 mm long.   Cirsium brevicaule
7 (4) Involucral bracts with linear viscid glands abaxially.   (8)
+ Involucral bracts without viscid glands abaxially.   (9)
8 (7) Flowers purple.   var. australe
+ Flowers white   var. takaoense
9 (7) Leaf segments (6-)8-9, ovate to ovate-lanceolate; corolla 11-16 mm long; pappus ca. 12 mm long.   Cirsium arisanense
+ Leaf segments remote, ca. 4, linear to linear-lanceolate; corolla 18-21 mm long; pappus ca. 16 mm long.   Cirsium kawakamii

Lower Taxa

Related Synonym(s):


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