Information on Carline Thistle

Common Name: Carline Thistle
Scientific Name: Carlina vulgaris
Irish Name: Feochadán mí
Family Group: Asteraceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Carline Thistle is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


One of the strange gems of the Burren, this biennial looks good whether on flower or when its heads are full of feathered seeds.  It's a short, prickly, stout little thistle with amazing golden-brown-tinged-purple, rayless flowers (15-40mm) with conspicuous, spiny, sepal-like yellow bracts which spread widely apart beneath. These are on densely prickled, leafy stems and close up in wet weather. The oblong leaves are wavy with spiny lobes.  This plant is also attractive when it's finished flowering as it leaves a very dry skeletal form of itself. On flower from June to September, it is not a frequently found plant, its habitat being sand-dunes, dry pastures and gravel-banks.  It is a native plant belonging to the family Asteraceae. 

I first identified the Carline Thistle in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare in 1978 and photographed it there in 1995. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Thistle, Carline
Thistle, Carline

This plant had some uses in folk medicine and legend has it that it got its common name 'Carline' because the Emperor Charlemagne used the plant to cure his army of pestilence.