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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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Council or Task Force

Priority Species: Scotch Thistle
Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. Washington Invasive Species Council.


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)
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.

Federal Government

U.S. National Plant Germplasm System - Onopordum acanthium
USDA. ARS. National Genetic Resources Program. GRIN-Global.

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

International Government

Weeds in Australia - Onopordum spp.
Australian Government. Department of the Environment and Energy.

Includes scotch thistle

NSW WeedWise: Scotch Thistle
New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (Australia).

Victorian Resources Online: Scotch thistle
Victoria Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Australia).

State Government

Encycloweedia: Data Sheet - Onopordum 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 - Scotch Thistle
Colorado Department of Agriculture. Conservation Services Division. Noxious Weed Program.

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.
See also: Weeds in Natural Areas for more information sheets

Scotch Thistle - PNW 569 (Sep 2003)
University of Idaho; Oregon State University; Washington State University. Pacific Northwest Extension.


Noxious Weed Information - 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. Pacific Northwest Extension Publication PNW 569.

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Last Modified: Sep 15, 2018
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