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

Canada Thistle

Canada ThistleScientific name: Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop (ITIS)

Common names: Canada thistle, Californian thistle, Canadian thistle, creeping thistle, field thistle, corn thistle, perennial thistle, field thistle

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Selected Resources

Native To: Europe (Nuzzo 1997)

Date of U.S. Introduction: 1600s (Nuzzo 1997)

Means of Introduction: Possibly accidental through farm seed shipments

Impact: Crowds out native species (Stachion and Zimdahl 1980); reduces crop and forage yields (Moore 1975)

Current U.S. Distribution:



Selected Resources:

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Council or Task Force

Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands - Cirsium arvense
California Invasive Plant Council.
In online book: Bossard, C.C., J.M. Randall, and M.C. Hoshovsky (Editors). 2000. Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands. University of California Press. Berkeley, CA

Invasive Plants of Ohio: Fact Sheet 14 - Canada Thistle (PDF | 214 KB)
Ohio Invasive Plants Council.
See also: Invasive Plants of Ohio for worst invasive plant species identified in Ohio's natural areas

Fact Sheet: Canada Thistle (Jan 2014; PDF | 481 KB)
Alberta Invasive Species Council (Canada).
See also: Fact Sheets for more information about individual invasive species, including those listed as "Prohibited Noxious" and "Noxious" under the Alberta Weed Control Act


Federal Noxious Weed Disseminules of the U.S. - Fact Sheet: Cirsium arvense
USDA. APHIS. PPQ. Center for Plant Health Science and Technology; California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Alaska Exotic Plants Information Clearinghouse (AKEPIC): Species Biography - Canada Thistle (Feb 7, 2011; PDF | 142 KB)
University of Alaska - Anchorage. Alaska Center for Conservation Science.
See also: Non-Native Plant Species List for additional factsheets (species biographies) and species risk assessment reports of non-native species present in Alaska and also non-native species currently not recorded in Alaska (potential invasives).

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

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

Invasive Species Compendium - Cirsium arvense
CAB International.

Global Invasive Species Database - Cirsium arvense (herb)
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.

Federal Government

U.S. National Plant Germplasm System - Cirsium arvense
USDA. ARS. National Genetic Resources Program. GRIN-Global.

Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) - Cirsium arvense
USDA. FS. Rocky Mountain Research Station. Fire Sciences Laboratory.

PLANTS Database - Canada Thistle
USDA. NRCS. National Plant Data Center.

International Government

Weeds in Australia - Perennial Thistle (Cirsium arvense)
Australian Government. Department of the Environment and Energy.

State Government

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

Noxious Weed Species - Canada Thistle
Colorado Department of Agriculture. Conservation Services Division. Noxious Weed Program.

Invasive Plants in Pennsylvania: Canada Thistle (PDF | 576 KB)
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

See also: Invasive Plant Fact Sheets for plant species (trees, shrubs, vines, herbs and aquatic plants) that have impacted the state's natural lands

Field Guide: Invasive - Canada Thistle
Missouri Department of Conservation.

See also: Problem Plant Control (scroll to Invasive Plants section) for more information to help you identify and control most common invasive plants in Missouri

Class C Noxious Weed: Canada Thistle
Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.

Canada Thistle
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


Natural Resources Series: Range - Canada Thistle
Colorado State University Extension.

Noxious Weeds of Nebraska - Canada Thistle
University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Cooperative Extension.

Ohio Perennial & Biennial Weed Guide - Canada Thistle
Ohio State University. Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.


Noxious Weed Information - Canada Thistle
Colorado Weed Management Association.

Weed Identification - Canada Thistle
Montana Weed Control Association.


Integrated Taxonomic Information System.Cirsium arvense. [Accessed Mar 14, 2015].

Moore, R.J. 1975. The biology of Canadian weeds: 13. Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 55(4):1033-1048.

Nuzzo, V. 1997. Element Stewardship Abstract for Cirsium arvense (PDF | 131 KB). Arlington, Va.: Nature Conservancy.

Stachion, W.J. and R.L. Zimdahl. 1980. Allelopathic activity of Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) in Colorado. Weed Science 28:83-86.

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Last Modified: Aug 25, 2018
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