Cirsium flodmanii (Flodman's Thistle)

Plant Info
Also known as: Hollow-root Thistle, Prairie Thistle
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:biennial, short-lived perennial
Habitat:sun; moist prairies
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FAC NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct

[photo of flowers] Flower heads are reddish purple to rose, 1 to 2 inches wide, single or a few at the end of branching stems at the top of the plant. Bracts are longer than wide with white racing stripe and small spreading spines.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate and deeply lobed, about 6 inches long at the base of the plant, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem. Lobes are generally triangular and quite wavy, with a spine at the tip of a lobe. The upper surface is dark green, lightly covered in cob-webby hairs, while the lower surface is velvety white from a dense mat of hairs.

[photo of stem] Stems are 1 to a few from the base, few branched, and covered with a fine downy coating.


Like most native thistles this one's spines are far less dense and prickly as compared to most of the non-native and more aggressive species.Though this species can be found up into the Arrowhead region, it is most commonly found throughout the western half of Minnesota on lower, moderately moist sites. It is easily distinguished from other thistles by the cob-webby or woolly hairs throughout, and its relatively short stature.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at McKnight Prairie, Goohdue County, and at Ordway Prairie, Pope County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Pennington County and at Ordway Prairie..


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: linda - Shooting Star Prairie SNA
on: 2015-08-22 09:38:45

Found on guided tour of this area on 8-8-15.

Posted by: sarah - Isanti County
on: 2015-11-25 11:25:22

I just planted this-- excited to see what insects it supports! Got plants from Minnesota Native Landscapes (MNL).

Posted by: Marybeth - Willmar
on: 2016-08-22 09:18:15

A large population along a recreational trail that was once a railroad bed. Noticed that the bumble bees and monarchs are particularly fond of this plant, even with a lot of other native species blooming in the same area.

Posted by: Natalie - Lake Bemidji
on: 2017-06-01 16:40:10

I'm fairly certain that I just removed some flodmans thistle from a juniper bed. This would add to the map, Beltrami County. Thanks for the site!! Super helpful!

Posted by: Jay - FERGUS FALLS
on: 2017-06-29 22:27:51

Sunny semi-wet prairie

Posted by: Eric - west of Buffalo
on: 2017-08-14 14:57:35

A couple small stands of this thistle in an old pasture. Soil is heavy clay.

Posted by: Lynette L - Coon Rapids
on: 2017-12-03 20:07:27

I saw some in Bemidji near a lake

Posted by: Barbara B - Gunton. Manitoba, Canada 35 miles north of Winnipeg
on: 2018-04-06 11:19:15

Have had this thistle in our pasture for about 5 years. It seems to be spreading. I notice the warblers eating the seeds in the autumn. The soil is very gravelly and partially bush covered, with open grass areas. I realize you aren't focusing on Canada but felt I needed to add my info.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2018-04-08 20:56:51

Barbara, Manitoba borders Minnesota and we like to hear what our neighbors have, too.

Posted by: Don - Paddock two. Ottertail county
on: 2018-06-23 14:52:07

I think I have flodmans thistle in my wild flower field. Could I send you picture? Don

Posted by: Bill - Westfield Iowa
on: 2019-05-30 12:37:11

Who was Flodman?

Posted by: Molly Stoddard - Fergus Falls
on: 2021-07-18 21:57:52

There are several local sites with Flodmans thistle including the golf course abracadabra drive. It grows on the left side in the news lawn along side nature spruce trees and receives much shade. Seems to tolerate being mowed.

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