When does this bloom?
Where does this bloom?
Common alongroad sides & pastures at lower elevations.
Bull Thistle is a tall biennial thistle, forming a rosette of leaves in the first year, and a flowering stem 1-2.5 m tall in the second year. The leaves are very spiny, deeply lobed, up to 15-25 cm long (smaller on the upper part of the flower stem). The inflorescence is 2.5-5 cm diameter, pink-purple, with all the florets of similar form (no division into disc and ray florets). The seeds are 5 mm long, with a downy pappus which assists in wind dispersal.
A fibre obtained from the inner bark is used in making paper. The fibre is about 0.9mm long. The stems are harvested in late summer, the leaves removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be stripped off. The fibres are cooked with lye for two hours and then put in a ball mill for 3 hours. The resulting paper is a light brown tan. The down makes an excellent tinder that is easily lit by a spark from a flint.