CARDUUS PYCNOCEPHALUS   

Family:- COMPOSITAE/Sect. LEPTOCEPHALI

Common Name:- Slender thistle

Synonyms:- Carduus tenuiflorus var. pycnocephalus, Carduus tenuiflorus
subsp. pycnocephalus.

Meaning:- Carduus (L) Thistle.
                  Pycnocephalus (Gr) With a dense flower head.

General description:- Herbaceous plant, hermaphrodite, with woody stock.

Stem:-
1) Up to 80 cm. arachnoid-hairy above, tomentulose above.
2) Wings up to 5 mm wide, triangular, with an apical spine up to 5 mm.

Leaves:-
1) Prolonged in wings along the stem and are more or less white and cottony in the
    lower part.
2) Alternate, simple, oblong, with 2 to 5 pairs of spiny palmate segments, with an
    apical thorn from 10 to 12mm length more or less spread out outwards.
3) Basal leaves of at least 20cm long.

Flowers:-
1) Capitula 15-20 x 7-13 mm, cylindrical, subsessile or on peduncles up to 10 cm
    and 2 mm diam, solitary or in clusters of 2-3.
2) Involucral bracts, imbricate, arachnoid hairy.
3) Bracts, inner, up to 1,25 times as long as the middle, faintly 3-veined in the distal
    1/2, not scarious at the margin distally.
4) Corolla 10-14 mm.

Fruit:-
1) Achenes, greyish, viscous, surmounted by a tuft of none feathery hairs. 4-5 mm,
    compressed, smooth; apical prominence small, shortly stipitate, clavate, entire.
2) Pappus 10-14 mm.

Key features:-
1) Involucral bracts widened in basal 1/3, at least 15 mm wide above. With mid-vein
raised at least in distal 1/2.
2) Inner involucral bracts longer than the inner middle.
3) Apical spine of leaf-lobes up to 12 mm.

Click here for a glossary of terms used.

Habitat:- Common weed of seashores, field margins, roadsides, olive groves, open
dry shrubby vegetation, etc. 0-1500 m.

Distribution:- Mediterranean area and SW Asia to Pakistan. Common and
widespread on Crete.

Flowering time:- Mar-June.

Photos by:- Steve Lenton
SPECIES DESCRIPTION