Creeping Thistle

Cirsium arvense

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  3. Creeping Thistle


The Creeping Thistle is our most common species of thistle and can be found on disturbed and cultivated ground such as rough grassland, roadside verges and field edges. Its creeping roots enable it to quickly spread across an area, forming large colonies. As with other thistles, it can become a nuisance on agricultural land and these species are often considered to be weeds. Despite this status, its seeds are an important food source for a variety of farmland birds.

How to identify

The Creeping Thistle has flower heads with lilac-pink florets (tiny flowers) on top of a small cylinder of spiny bracts (leaf-like structures) that appear from June to October. Its leaves are divided and spiny, and its stems do not have wings. Like most thistles, it produces masses of fluffy wind-borne seeds in late summer.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

Some of our most abundant species are often treated as 'weeds' when they appear in the garden. Yet they can be extremely beneficial to wildlife, providing food for nectar-loving insects and shelter for minibeasts. Try leaving wilder areas in your garden and see who comes to visit... To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Creeping Thistle
Latin name
Cirsium arvense
Height: up to 1m
Conservation status