Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Cirsium L.P. Mill. (Cnicus L.)

Herbs with spinous leaves. Leaves decurrent at base or sessile. Heads many flowered. Involucral bracts imbricate, apex more or less spinous. Receptacle fimbriate.Flowers purple or yellowish, equal, bisexual, rarely dloecious corolla equal; tube short, throat oblong; limb 5-fid or 5-partite. Filaments free, papillose or glabrous; anthers with tail-like appendages or not. Achenes oblong, compressed, glabrous. Pappus multiseriate, bristles plumose.

North temperate zone; ca 150 species, 7 in India.

Literature. KITAMURA, S. (1934). Les Cirses de 1'Asie Orientale; leur Classification et leur distribution. Acta Phytotax. Geobot. 3: 1-14. (A critical treatment in Japanese). SCHTEPA, T.S. (1965). Materies at studium Pollinis Characterum generis Cirsium Mill. (en russe). Not. Syst. Georg. Inst. Bot. Thbil. 26: 57-62.

Notes. Most of the species of this genus are extremely variable and Biosystematic study is required to draw correct delimitations of the species.


1a. Inner involucral bracts with dilated tips 7. Cirsium wallichii
b. Inner involucral bracts not dilated at tips 2
2a. Heads usually ca 2.5 cm across 3
b. Heads usually 3.5-7.5 cm across 4
3a. Leaves always glabrous above; heads densely fascicled 1. Cirsium argyracanthum
b. Leaves ciliate smooth or scaberulous above; heads usually solitary 5. Cirsium shansiense
4a. Involucral bracts quite glabrous, none really spinescent, the points of the outennost being merely needle-like; pappus ca 2.5 cm long 4. Cirsium interpositum
b. Involucral bracts not quite glabrous, ending usually in spines; pappus ca 1.5 cm long 5
5a. Corolla usually ca 6 cm long 2. Cirsium eriophoroides
b. Corolla usually ca 2.5 cm long 6
6a. Heads densely woolly, subsolitary, drooping 3. Cirsium falconeri
b. Heads not densley woolly, usually glabrate, solitary or fascicled, inclined 6. Cirsium verutum

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