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You are here: Home / Plants / Species Profiles / Scotch Thistle
Species Profiles

Scotch Thistle

Scotch ThistleScientific name: Onopordum acanthium L. (ITIS)

Common names: Scotch thistle, cotton thistle, heraldic thistle, woolly thistle

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Selected Resources

Native To: Eurasia (Briese et al. 2003)

Date of U.S. Introduction: 1800s (Schuster and Prather 2003)

Means of Introduction: Ornamental (Schuster and Prather 2003)

Impact: Crowds out desirable forage (Schuster and Prather 2003)

Current U.S. Distribution:


Selected Resources:

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Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE) - Scotch thistle
University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States - Scotch Thistle
University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Texas Invasives Database - Onopordum acanthium

Invasive Species Compendium - Onopordum acanthium
CAB International.

Global Invasive Species Database - Onopordum acanthium (herb)
World Conservation Union. Invasive Species Specialist Group.


Onopordum acanthium L. (Scotch Thistle) - Noxious and Nuisance Plant Management Information System (PMIS)
DOD. USACE. Engineer Research and Development Center. Environmental Laboratory.

Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) - Onopordum acanthium
USDA. ARS. National Genetic Resources Program.

PLANTS Database - Scotch Cottonthistle
USDA. NRCS. National Plant Data Center.

Scotch thistle - Information Notes
Victoria Department of Primary Industries (Australia).

Guide to Weeds in British Columbia - Scotch Thistle
British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries (Canada).

Weed Profile: Scotch thistle
New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (Australia).

Weeds of Australia - Scotch Thistle
Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (Australia). Biosecurity Queensland.


Encycloweedia: Data Sheet - Onopordum genus
California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Included on California's noxious weed list; see Encycloweedia: Program Details for additional resources.

Scotch Thistle Identification and Management (Aug 2008; PDF | 927 KB)
Colorado Department of Agriculture. Conservation Services Division.

Stop the Invasion: Scotch Thistle (May 2011; PDF | 606 KB)
Washington Invasive Species Council.

Class B Noxious Weed: Scotch Thistle
Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.


Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States: Scotch Thistle (2013; PDF | 262 KB)
University of California. Weed Research and Information Center.

Scotch Thistle (PNW 569) (PDF | 95 KB)
University of Idaho. Pacific Northwest Extension.


Scotch Thistle
Colorado Weed Management Association.


Briese, D.T., S. Bottcher, J. Vitou, and T. Thomann. 2003. Prevalence and impact of the crown fly, Botanophila spinosa, on its host thistle, Onopordum acanthium, in southern France. Acta Oecologica 24(2):77-86.

Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Onopordum acanthium. [Accessed Sep 10, 2014].

Schuster, M., and T.S. Prather. 2003. Scotch thistle (PDF | 95 KB) University of Idaho. Pacific Northwest Extension Publication PNW 569.

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Last Modified: Nov 18, 2015
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