Name: Spear Thistle, Common Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
Description: The spear thistle is a biennial plant native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. It is covered in many thick spikes. C. vulgare is a ruderal species, meaning it is the first to colonise disturbed and/or barren grounds, making it a somewhat invasive and persistent plant. It is mostly considered a weed.
Close-up of a flower head and spikes.
Size: In the first year of its life, C. vulgare will grow its taproot and ground leaves and not change its vertical situation very much, but in the second year it grows up to 1 - 1.5 meters tall.
Conditions:C. vulgare is a very hardy and tolerant plant and will thrive in even barren and dry soils relatively well.
Extending stalk on a maturing plant.
Propagation: The thistle propagates solely via seed unlike other members of the Cirsium genus who also propagate via the root system.
Several thistles growing by the side of a path.
When to plant: If planted for culinary purposes, early spring is the most favourable time of the year to allow for the taproot to become established before winter.