Globe-thistles

Blue Globe-thistle Common Globe-thistle Blue Globe-thistle Common Globe-thistle

What are they?

The globe-thistles are rather unusual-looking members of the Asteraceae, since their flowers are not arranged on a flat disc like most members of the family. Instead, the small, five-petalled florets are arranged in a sphere which is carried on a single stem held above the leaves.

Where are they found?

None of the species on this page is native to the UK, so if found, they are most likely to be on waste ground, roadsides banks or in urban places. Although rare as garden escapes, some roadside populations have been known for many years and now form quite extensive colonies.

Identification

The identification of the species can be made my checking details of the stiff phyllaries before the flowers open and by the colour of the flowers. Note: Echinops ritro has not been recorded as yet in our region, but it is sold as a garden plant. It has blue flowers like E. bannaticus but has revolute leaf margins (which means the edges of the leaves are rolled under, which can be seen by checking the underside of the leaves).



Common Globe-thistle      Echinops exaltatus

Introduced from eastern Europe. A few colonies have persisted for a long time in East Anglia, most notably in the Norfolk Brecks. Flowers July to September. Flowers greyish-white, phyllaries strongly curved outwards towards the tips.

Common Globe-thistle Common Globe-thistle Common Globe-thistle Common Globe-thistle
Habit
Flowerhead
Flowers
Leaf
Common Globe-thistle
Phyllaries close up


Blue Globe-thistle      Echinops bannaticus

Introduced from south-eastern Europe. Rare but persistent as a garden escape or throw-out. Flowers July to September. Flowers blue, phyllaries more less straight and only slightly curved outwards towards the tips.

Blue Globe-thistle Blue Globe-thistle Blue Globe-thistle Blue Globe-thistle
Habit
Flowerhead
Flowers
Leaf
Blue Globe-thistle Blue Globe-thistle
Phyllaries close up
Leaf margins