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You are here: Home / Plants / Species Profiles / Purple Star Thistle
Species Profiles

Purple Star Thistle

Purple star thistleScientific name: Centaurea calcitrapa L. (ITIS)

Common names: Purple star thistle, red star thistle, common star thistle

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Selected Resources

Native To: Mediterranean Region (Pitcairn et al. 2002)

Date of U.S. Introduction: First discovered in the late 1800s (Pitcairn et al. 2002)

Means of Introduction: Accidental (Pitcairn et al. 2002)

Impact: Crowds out desirable forage species on rangelands (Pitcairn et al. 2002)

Current U.S. Distribution:


Selected Resources:

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Council or Task Force

Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands - Centaurea calcitrapa
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 Plant Atlas of the United States - Purple Starthistle
University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Federal Government

U.S. National Plant Germplasm System - Centaurea calcitrapa
USDA. ARS. National Genetic Resources Program. GRIN-Global.

PLANTS Database - Red Star-thistle
USDA. NRCS. National Plant Data Center.

Exotic Species: Purple Starthistle (2010)
DOI. NPS. Science of the American Southwest.

See also: Invasive Plant Species for more fact sheets

International Government

Weeds in Australia - Star Thistle (Centaurea calcitrapa)
Australian Government. Department of the Environment and Energy.

State Government

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

Plant Pest Risk Assessment for Purple Starthistle, Centaurea calcitrapa (Sep 2010; PDF | 2.82 MB)
Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Class A Noxious Weed: Purple Starthistle
Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.


Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States: Purple and Iberian Starthistle (2013; PDF | 243 KB)
University of California. Weed Research and Information Center.
See also: Weeds in Natural Areas for more information sheets

Managing Purple and Iberian Starthistles (PDF | 134 KB)
University of Nevada - Reno. Cooperative Extension.
See also: Natural Resources Publications for more fact sheets


Purple Star-thistle Control (PDF | 147 KB)
Marin Agricultural Land Trust (California).


Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Centaurea calcitrapa. [Accessed Sep 10, 2014].

Pitcairn, M.J., J.A. Young, C.D. Clements, and J. Balciunas. 2002. Purple starthistle (Centaurea calcitrapa) seed germination. Weed Technology 16(2):452-456.

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Last Modified: Sep 25, 2018
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