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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Campanulids
Ordo: Asterales

Familia: Asteraceae
Subfamilia: Carduoideae
Tribus: Cardueae
Subtribus: Carduinae
Genus: Onopordum
Species: O. acanthium - O. acaulon – O. alexandrinum – O. algeriense – O. ambiguum – O. anatolicum – O. arenarium – O. armenum – O. blancheanum – O. boissierianum – O. bracteatum – O. candidum – O. canum – O. carduchorum – O. carduelium – O. carduiforme – O. caricum – O. carmanicum – O. caulescens – O. cinereum – O. corymbosum – O. cynarocephalum – O. cyprium – O. cyrenaicum – O. davisii – O. dissectum – O. dyris – O. eriocephalum – O. espinae – O. floccosum – O. hasankeyfense – O. heteracanthum – O. hinojense – O. horridum – O. illyricum – O. jordanicola – O. laconicum – O. leptolepis – O. macracanthum – O. macrocephalum – O. magrebiense – O. majorii – O. mesatlanticum – O. messeniacum – O. micropterum – O. myriacanthum – O. nervosum – O. nezaketianum – O. palaestinum – O. platylepis – O. podlechii – O. polycephalum – O. prjachinii – O. sarrafii – O. seravschanicum – O. sirsangense – O. syriacum – O. tauricum – O. turcicum – O. wallianum

Nothospecies: O. × bolivarii – O. × brevicaule – O. × dumoulinii – O. × erectum – O. × godronii – O. × humile – O. × longissimum – O. × macronervosum – O. × onubense – O. × setense – O. × spinosissimum – O. × teddianum


Onopordum L., Sp. Pl.: 827 (1753); Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 359 (1754).

Type species: Onopordum acanthium L.; lectotype, designated by M.L. Green, Prop. Brit. Bot. 179 (Aug. 1929)


Acanos Adans., Fam. Pl. 2: 116 (1763).
Acanthium Heist. ex Fabr., Enum.: 91 (1759).

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Europe
Regional: Northern Europe
Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Sweden.
Regional: Middle Europe
Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland.
Regional: Southwestern Europe
Baleares, Corse, France, Portugal, Sardegna, Spain.
Regional: Southeastern Europe
Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Kriti, Romania, Sicilia, Turkey-in-Europe, Yugoslavia.
Regional: Eastern Europe
Belarus, Baltic States, Krym, Central European Russia, East European Russia, South European Russia, Northwest European Russia, Ukraine.
Continental: Africa
Regional: Northern Africa
Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia.
Regional: Macaronesia
Canary Islands.
Continental: Asia-Temperate
Regional: Siberia
Altay, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, West Siberia.
Regional: Russian Far East
Regional: Middle Asia
Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Turkmenistan, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan.
Regional: Caucasus
North Caucasus, Transcaucasus.
Regional: Western Asia
Afghanistan, Cyprus, East Aegean Islands, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon-Syria, Palestine, Sinai, Turkey.
Regional: Arabian Peninsula
Saudi Arabia, Yemen.
Regional: China
Continental: Asia-Tropical
Regional: Indian Subcontinent
Pakistan, West Himalaya.
Continental: Australasia
Regional: Australia
New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia.
Continental: Northern America
Regional: Western Canada
British Columbia.
Regional: Eastern Canada
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Québec.
Regional: Northwestern U.S.A.
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming.
Regional: North-Central U.S.A.
Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wisconsin.
Regional: Northeastern U.S.A.
Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia.
Regional: Southwestern U.S.A.
Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah.
Regional: South-Central U.S.A.
New Mexico, Texas.
Regional: Southeastern U.S.A.
Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia.
Continental: Southern America
Regional: Southern South America

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus II: 827. Reference page.
Linnaeus, C. 1754. Genera Plantarum, ed. 5: 359. Reference page.

Additional references

Hitchcock, A.S. & Green, M.L. 1929. Standard species of Linnaean genera of Phanerogamae (1753–1754). pp. 111–195 in International Botanical Congress. Cambridge (England), 1930. Nomenclature. Proposals by British Botanists. His Majesty's Stationery Office, London. Biblioteca Digital Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2022. Onopordum in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2022 Jan 26. Reference page. 2022. Onopordum. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2022 Jan 26.
International Plant Names Index. 2022. Onopordum. Published online. Accessed: 26 Jan 2022.
Hassler, M. 2022. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Onopordum. Accessed: 26 Jan 2022.
Hassler, M. 2022. Onopordum. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2022. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2022 Jan 26. Reference page.
Farr, E.R. & Zijlstra, G. (eds.) 1996 onwards. Onopordum in Index Nominum Genericorum (Plantarum). Accessed: 2022 Jan 26.

Vernacular names
беларуская: Татарнік
чӑвашла: Тал пиçен
Deutsch: Eselsdisteln
suomi: Kruunuohdakkeet
Nordfriisk: Fisler
français: Onopordon
עברית: חוחן
italiano: Onopordo
ქართული: ბრტყელეკალა
lietuvių: Kardažolė
polski: Popłoch
русский: Татарник
svenska: Ulltistelsläktet
українська: Татарник

Onopordum, cottonthistle,[3] is a genus of plants in the thistle tribe within the Asteraceae.[4] They are native to southern Europe, northern Africa, the Canary Islands, the Caucasus, and southwest and central Asia. They grow on disturbed land, roadsides, arable land and pastures.[5]

They are biennials (rarely short-lived perennials) with branched, spinose winged stems, growing 0.5–3 m tall. In the first season they form a basal rosette of gray-green felted leaves and rarely a few flower heads. In the second season they grow rapidly to their final height, flowering extensively, and then die off after seed maturation.[6]

The leaves are dentate or shallowly lobed to compound with several pinnatifid or deeply cut leaflets, and strongly spiny. The terminal flower head is typical for thistles, a semi-spherical to ovoid capitulum with purple (seldom white or pink) disc florets. There are no ray florets. The receptacle is glabrous with dentate margins. The tube of the corolla is slender, sac-shaped and symmetrical. The anthers have awl-shaped outgrowths on the top. The capitula have several overlapping rows of leathery basal simple linear-lanceolate spines. These are smooth to slightly pubescent.

These plants propagate only by seed. The seed heads mature in mid-summer, releasing their seeds. The fruit is a glabrous achene, 4–6 mm long and with 4-50 ribs. The pappus consists of many rows of simple, fine to minutely rough hairs, united in a circular base.[6]

Onopordum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Coleophora onopordiella (feeds exclusively on O. acanthium).

In the Greek island of Crete a native species called agriagginara (αγριαγγινάρα) or koufoti (κουφωτοί) has its heads (flowers) and tender leaves eaten raw by the locals.[7]


Onopordum acanthium L. - Cotton thistle, Scotch thistle, Scotch common-thistle, heraldic thistle, woolly thistle

Onopordum acanthium - habit
- widespread across Europe and temperate Asia
Onopordum acaulon L. - Stemless thistle, horse thistle - France, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia
Onopordum alexandrinum Boiss. - Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan
Onopordum algeriense (Munby) Pomel - Algeria
Onopordum ambiguum Fresen. - Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan
Onopordum anatolicum (Boiss.) Eig. - Turkey
Onopordum arenarium M.Hossain & M.A.A.Al-Sarraf - Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya
Onopordum armenum Grossh. - Caucasus, Iran, Turkey
Onopordum blancheanum (Eig) Danin - Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon
Onopordum boissierianum Raab-Straube & Greuter - Turkey
Onopordum bracteatum Boiss. & Heldr. - Greece, Turkey, Cyprus
Onopordum canum Eig - Iran, Jordan, Israel, Turkey
Onopordum carduchorum Bornm. & Beauverd - Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iran
Onopordum carduelium Bolle - Canary Islands
Onopordum carduiforme Boiss. - Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan
Onopordum carmanicum (Bornm.) Bornm. - Iran
Onopordum caulescens d'Urv. - Greece
Onopordum cinereum Grossh. - Caucasus, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan
Onopordum corymbosum Willk. - France, Spain
Onopordum cynarocephalum Boiss. & Blanche - Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan
Onopordum cyrenaicum Maire & Weiller - Libya
Onopordum dissectum Murb. - Spain, Morocco
Onopordum dyris Maire - Morocco
Onopordum elongatum Lam.
Onopordum eriocephalum Rouy - France
Onopordum espinae Coss.
Onopordum heteracanthum C.A.Mey. - Caucasus, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia
Onopordum horridum Viv. - Italy
Onopordum illyricum L. - Illyrian thistle, Illyrian cottonthistle - Mediterranean
Onopordum leptolepis DC. - from Palestine to Altay + Xinjiang
Onopordum macracanthum Schousb. - Spain, Portugal, Italy, Morocco, Algeria
Onopordum macrocanthum d'Urv.
Onopordum macrocephalum Eig - Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan
Onopordum mesatlanticum Emb. & Maire - Morocco
Onopordum micropterum Pau - Spain, Canary Islands
Onopordum minor L. - Iran
Onopordum myriacanthum Boiss. - Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria
Onopordum nervosum Boiss. - Moor's cottonthistle - Spain, Portugal
Onopordum parnassicum Boiss. & Heldr. - Greece, Turkey
Onopordum platylepis (Coss. ex Murb.) Murb. - Libya, Tunisia
Onopordum polycephalum Boiss. - Turkey
Onopordum prjachinii Tamamsch. - Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
Onopordum seravschanicum Tamamsch. - Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
Onopordum sibthorpianum Boiss. & Heldr. - Greece, Sicily, Malta, Turkey, North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia
Onopordum tauricum Willd. - Turkish thistle, Taurian thistle, Taurus cottonthistle, bull cottonthistle - southern + central Europe, Ukraine, Middle East
Onopordum turcicum Danin - Turkey
Onopordum wallianum Maire - Morocco

Natural hybrids

Onopordum × brevicaule (Onopordum acaulon × Onopordum acanthium )
Onopordum × erectum (Onopordum nervosum ssp. castellanum × Onopordum tauricum ssp. corymbosum )
Onopordum × macronervosum (Onopordum nervosum × Onopordum macrocanthum)
Onopordum × onubense (Onopordum dissectum × Onopordum macrocanthum)
Onopordum × spinosissimum (Onopordum illyricum × Onopordum acanthium)

Invasive problems

Some species of Onopordum have been introduced as ornamental plants in the temperate regions of North America and Australia, where they have become naturalised in the wild. In most of these countries, these thistles are considered noxious weeds, especially in Australia where a biological control program has been set up (using the Rosette Crown Weevil, Trichosirocalus briesei).[8] In North America, there are also Trichosirocalus control programs, but they have proved detrimental to native thistles.[9]


Tropicos, Onopordum L.
Flann, C (ed) 2009+ Global Compositae Checklist Archived 2014-11-06 at
USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Onopordum". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
Linnaeus, Carl von. 1753. Species Plantarum 2: 827 in Latin
Altervista Flora Italiana, genere Onopordum includes photos and distribution maps for several species
Flora of China Vol. 20-21 Page 159, 大翅蓟属 da chi ji shu Onopordum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 827. 1753.
Kleonikos G. Stavridakis , Κλεόνικος Γ. Σταυριδάκης (2006), Wild edible plants of Crete - Η Άγρια βρώσιμη χλωρίδα της Κρήτης, Rethymnon Crete, ISBN 978-960-631-179-6
Briese, D. T.; Thomann, T.; Vitou, J. (2002), "Impact of the rosette crown weevil Trichosirocalus briesei on the growth and reproduction of Onopordum thistles", Journal of Applied Ecology, 39 (4): 688, doi:10.1046/j.1365-2664.2002.00747.x

Takahashi, Masaru; Louda, SM; Miller, TE; O'Brien, CW (2009), "Occurrence of Trichosirocalus horridus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) on Native Cirsium altissimum Versus Exotic C. Vulgare in North American Tallgrass Prairie", Environmental Entomology, 38 (3): 731–40, doi:10.1603/022.038.0325, PMID 19508782, S2CID 55487

Briese, D.T., Lane, D., Hyde-Wyatt, B.H., Crocker, J., Diver, R.G. (1990). Distribution of thistles of the genus Onopordum in Australia. Plant Protection Quarterly 5: 23-27.

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