Welted Thistle Carduus crispus

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
welted thistle


Carduus crispus, commonly known as the Welted Thistle, is a perennial plant with a distinct architectural look owing to its spiny, deeply lobed leaves and bristled flower heads. The leaves are typically green with a wrinkled texture, often bearing a grayish-white underside. Edges of the foliage are armed with sharp prickles, making the plant easily recognizable and deterring to the touch. When in bloom, the Welted Thistle produces attractive, spherical flower heads; these are usually purple or sometimes pink, surrounded by spiky bracts that echo the prickliness of the foliage. The bracts are usually lined in a web-like pattern, which adds to the plant's interesting appearance. The flowers are a magnet for a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies, adding to the ecological value of the plant. Despite its spiny demeanor, the Welted Thistle has a certain wild beauty, often brightening the grasslands, meadows, and disturbed grounds where it typically grows. This adaptive plant has a robust nature and can survive in a wide range of conditions, contributing to its spread and success in various habitats.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Welted Thistle, Curled Thistle, Curly Plumeless Thistle

    • Common names

      Carduus acanthoides, Cirsium crispum, Cnicus acanthoides, Cnicus crispus.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Carduus crispus, commonly known as the Welted thistle, does not have any significant recorded toxicity to humans. This plant is not typically considered edible and may cause mild discomfort if ingested due to its spiny nature, but there is no widespread documentation of toxic effects from ingestion. Therefore, it does not generally pose a poisoning risk to people.

    • To pets

      Welted thistle, or Carduus crispus, is not known to be toxic to pets. While the plant is not intended for consumption, ingestion of parts of the plant by pets may lead to gastrointestinal upset due to its physical attributes such as spines, but it does not constitute a toxic hazard. Pets that consume part of this plant might experience mild discomfort or irritation of the mouth or stomach, but significant toxic effects are not expected.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-3 feet [30-91 cm]

    • Spread

      1-2 feet [30-61 cm]

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ecosystem Support: Carduus crispus, commonly known as curly plumeless thistle, provides nectar and pollen for various pollinators including bees, butterflies, and other insects, thus supporting biodiversity.
    • Soil Fertility: The deep roots of curly plumeless thistle can bring up nutrients from deeper soil layers, potentially benefiting plants nearby that have shallower root systems.
    • Erosion Control: The root system of curly plumeless thistle helps to stabilize the soil and can be useful in areas prone to erosion.
    • Habitat: This plant provides cover and nesting materials for birds and other wildlife.
    • Food Source: While not commonly consumed, young shoots and leaves can be eaten if properly prepared to remove spines.
    • Indicator Plant: Curly plumeless thistle can indicate overgrazed or disturbed land, signaling the need for land management changes.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Diuretic effects: Traditionally used to promote urine production and relieve fluid retention.
    • Appetite stimulation: May have been used historically to stimulate appetite and aid digestion.
    • Antirheumatic actions: Rumored to have been used for relieving symptoms of rheumatism and other inflammatory conditions.
    • Gallbladder support: Believed to support gallbladder function and possibly aid in the treatment of gallstones.
    • Liver protection: Thought to have hepatoprotective properties that might help in protecting the liver.
    Please note that these uses have not been verified by modern clinical studies and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional before using any plant for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Carduus crispus, commonly known as the "curled thistle," can be used for natural dyeing, producing colors ranging from yellow to green depending on the mordant used.
    • The downy pappus of curled thistle is occasionally collected for use as tinder or kindling in traditional fire-starting techniques.
    • The stems of curled thistle, when peeled and soaked, have been used historically to make paper or cardboard-like materials.
    • Fiber from the plant may be employed in creating rough fabrics or textiles in sustainable or historical reenactment practices.
    • Curled thistle can be added to compost as a source of nitrogen, given its relatively high protein content when compared to some other plant waste.
    • The plant's spiny architecture provides a natural deterrent against garden pests, protecting more delicate plants without the use of chemicals.
    • Curled thistle is sometimes used as a soil erosion control plant because it has a deep root system that helps stabilize soil.
    • In floral arrangements, especially in dried form, it can add visual interest and texture with its striking spiky appearance.
    • Its presence in a field can be an indicator plant suggesting heavy soil, which can help inform land management practices.
    • Some artists use curled thistle's distinctive silhouette in printmaking or as inspiration in botanical illustrations.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The plant Carduus crispus, commonly known as curly plumeless thistle, is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The plant curly plumeless thistle is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection: Carduus crispus, commonly known as curly plumeless thistle or curly thistle, is often associated with protection due to its spiky appearance, which can be seen as a metaphor for guarding against harm or negative influences.
    • Strength and Resilience: The thistle, with its ability to thrive in difficult conditions, is a symbol of the ability to endure tough circumstances and represents personal fortitude.
    • Healing: Historically, some species of thistle were used in medicinal remedies, which can lend a symbolic meaning of healing and health to this plant.
    • Defiance: The thistle is a plant that does not easily submit to control, symbolizing defiance against oppression or adversity.
    • Nobility: In some cultures, the thistle represents nobility and high honor, partly due to its association with Scottish heraldry where it is the national emblem.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Welted Thistle should be watered deeply yet infrequently to mimic natural conditions, as overwatering can lead to root rot. Aim to water this plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, which may equate to approximately once every week during active growth periods in warmer months. During the dormant season or cooler months, reduce watering to every other week or less, depending on the soil's moisture level. Generally, it is safe to provide the Welted Thistle with about half a gallon of water per watering session to ensure the root zone is adequately moistened.

  • sunLight

    For the Welted Thistle, full sunlight is optimal, which translates to at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. This plant thrives in open, sunny locations where it can receive unfiltered, direct light. Avoiding overly shaded areas is crucial to ensure healthy growth and abundant flowering.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The Welted Thistle is relatively hardy and can withstand a temperature range from around 25°F to 85°F. However, its ideal growing conditions lie between 60°F and 75°F. This plant can tolerate light frost, but prolonged exposure to temperatures below the minimum range can be detrimental.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning the Welted Thistle can help maintain its shape and encourage more robust growth. The best time to prune is in late winter or early spring, before the onset of new growth. Remove any dead or damaged stems and cut back old flowers to stimulate new blooms. Pruning should be done annually or as needed when the plant appears overgrown or unkempt.

  • broomCleaning

    Not needed

  • bambooSoil

    The Welted Thistle (Carduus crispus) prefers a well-draining soil mix with a pH range of about 6.0 to 7.5. A combination of loamy soil, peat, and sand or perlite can provide the necessary drainage and aeration this plant likes. Organic matter such as compost can also be mixed in to enrich the soil and support healthy growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Welted Thistle (Carduus crispus) is not typically grown as a potted plant and thus doesn't have specific repotting guidelines. In its natural habitat, it is a biennial and would not require repotting. If grown in containers, it would likely only need repotting if it outgrows its container or the soil becomes depleted.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Welted Thistle (Carduus crispus) can tolerate a wide range of humidity levels and is quite hardy. It does not have specific humidity requirements but being native to meadows and fields, it does best in outdoor conditions where humidity is naturally regulated.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Welted Thistle in bright light, limit watering.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in full sun, well-drained soil, water when dry.

    • Hardiness zone

      5-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Commonly known as curly plumeless thistle or welted thistle, Carduus crispus begins its life cycle as a seed that germinates in the soil. Upon germination, it develops into a rosette of spiny, crinkled leaves that can persist for one or more seasons. The plant is a biennial, which means that flowering occurs in its second year, during which it produces a flowering stalk with spiny-winged stems and purple, fluffy flower heads. The flowers are hermaphroditic and are predominantly pollinated by insects, after which they produce achenes, a type of dry fruit containing a single seed. These seeds are dispersed by wind and can remain viable in the soil for several years. After seed dispersal, the parent plant dies, completing its life cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to Summer

    • The common name for Carduus crispus is curly plumeless thistle, and its most popular method of propagation is by seed. The best time to sow the seeds is in the spring after the last frost has passed, maximizing the growing season. To propagate curly plumeless thistle, you should scatter the seeds over well-draining soil where they will receive ample sunlight. It is not necessary to cover the seeds with soil; however, a light sprinkling can help retain moisture and protect them from being eaten by birds or blowing away. Keeping the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, is crucial for germination, which typically occurs within two to three weeks. Once the seedlings are established and show true leaves, they can be thinned out to prevent overcrowding, which allows the remaining plants to grow to their full potential.