Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands

Thistle, Scotch
Zéé hókanííł béí, Whosh Waa’
(a.k.a. scotch cottonthistle )

Thistle growing among dense grasses in a grassland habitat

Scotch thistle is a noxious, biennial weed that grows up to 12 feet tall. It has spiny wings along the stem. The leaves have a grayish appearance due to dense hairs on the surface. Flowers are reddish to violet. Scotch thistle is often associated with waste places and roadways, as well as rivers, streams, canals, or other waterways,

It can also be abundant in dry pastures, fields, and rangeland, and thrives in light, well-drained, and sandy or stony soils.

Brushland growth habit showing tall stems with multiple branches, each containing several flowers
A dense stand of thistle, showing invasive tendencies
A bud that is about to open. The tip is reddish, but the rest of the bud is covered in spiny green bracts
Spiny, lobed leaves sheltering equally spiny buds
Close-up of a bud about to open. The tip of this bud is an orangey yellow
A dried flower with spines protruding
A dried flower with spines protruding
Bees on a flower in bloom

Copyright 2018 New Mexico State University. Individual photographers retain all rights to their images. Partially funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (westernsare.org; 435.797.2257), project EW15-023. Programs and projects supported by Western SARE are equally open to all people. NMSU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action educator and employer.