Keys as per BSI Flora of India:

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

Confusion between Circium argyracanthum, C. wallichii and C. verutum:
From the previous discussions, there seems to be Confusion between Circium argyracanthum and C. verutum.

Let us have a closer look at its nomenclature:
FBI from IBIS Flora:
Cnicus argyracanthus (DC.) C.B.Clarke (Stem cottony, leaves glabrous above cottony or glabrate beneath lobes and teeth strongly spinescent, radical petioled pinnatifid lobes rounded, cauline broader cordate amplexicaul, heads 3/4-1 in. diam, sessile densely fascicled involucrate, invol. bracts with woolly margins and long strong erect or spreading spines, innermost linear acuminate, corolla 1/2 in. white. Carduus argyracanthus, Wall. Cat. 2903.
TEMPERATE HIMALAYA, alt. 6-9000 ft., from Murree to Bhutan (excl. Sikkim).
A more slender plant than C. involucratus, with the leaves always glabrous above and much more numerous smaller and densely fascicled heads. Achenes 1/8 in. long ; pappus 1/2 in., nearly white.)
Description above matches with specimens of C. argyracanthum (POWO)- onetwo
Cnicus involucratus Wall. ex DC. (Tall, stout, erect, leaves setulose above white-tomentose beneath teeth and lobes spinescent, radical petioled pinnate, segments lanceolate sinuate-lobed or toothed, cauline broader cordate-amplexicaul ovate or lanceolate pinnatifid, heads 1.1/2-2.1/2 in. diam, solitary or fascicled involucrate, invol. bracts glabrate all ending in slender erect or subrecurved spines or a few innermost linear acuminate, corolla 1 in. long. 
TEMPERATE HIMALAYA ; from Kashmir to Bhotan, alt. 8-12,000 ft.
Stem as thick below as the little finger, 2-6 ft. high, branched above. Leaves, radical a foot long, pinnatifid to the middle or deeper, or to the base with distant lobes. Heads inclined ; corolla glabrous. Achenes 1/5 in. long, obovoid-oblong, margins obtuse ; pappus 2/3 in., brown.—Western specimens of this have more rigid leaves, spinescent above, and longer stronger invol. spines than the Sikkim ones have. De Candolle describes the corollas as purple, which they appear to be when dry, but they are pale yellow-white when fresh. I have gathered in E. Nipal withered specimens of a plant like this, but with the leaves quite glabrous above and many rows of inner invol. bracts with soft reflexed flat wrinkled tips. I have also seen in Sikkim and the Khasia leaves supposed to belong to this species that are quite glabrous above.)
Description above matches with specimens of C. verutum (POWO)- one (C. involucratus of FBI) and two (C. involucratus of FBI), the following may be the real C.verutum:

Cirsium sp?? — enroute Dhel at GHNP – PKA30 (12000 ft.)

Cnicus wallichii (DC.) C.B.Clarke (DC. Prodr. vi. 643 (Cirsium) ; stem pubescent leafy, leaves sessile sinuate-pinnatifid lobes spinescent lobulate spines very long and strong glabrous above and beneath or cottony or tomentose beneath, heads 3/4-1.1/2 in. solitary and on naked peduncles or sessile fascicled and involucrate, outer invol. bracts lanceolate ending in appressed erect or recurved spines, inner with spreading or recurved more or less dilated, lanceolate or ovate spreading or recurved scarious serrulate acute or spinescent tips, corolla 2/3 in. long. C. carlinoides, Cass. var. B, Herb. Ind. Or. H. f. & T.TEMPERATE HIMALAYA ; from Marri to Bhotan, alt. 6-12,000 ft. NILGHERRY Mts., alt. 6000 ft.
An extremely variable plant, 4-10 ft. high, with spreading branches, which passes into C. argyracanthus through var. Wightiana in the Eastern Himalayas and the Nilgherries. The following varieties pass into one another in the most perplexing way. Corolla white, yellow or red (according to Clarke).)
Cnicus wallichii var. nepalensis (DC.) Hook.f. (leaves white-tomentose beneath,heads peduncled, inner invol. tracts with broadly dilated scarious reflexed tips in many series more numerous than the outer spiniferous ones, sometimes occupying two thirds of the head. Cnicus arachnoides, Wall. Cat. 2891. C. Wallichii, Clarke Comp. Ind. 219. Cirsium nepalense, DC. Prodr. vi. 642.)
GBIF specimen- one (Cnicus wallichii (DC.) C.B.Clarke), POWO specimen- one (Cnicus arachnoides Wall.) and two (Cnicus wallichii var. nepalensis (DC.) Hook.f.)

Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. (Images by Karuna Kanta Das (Validation by Nidhan Singh), Gurcharan Singh, D S RawatP. Santhan & Alok Goyal (Id by Gurcharan Singh)  (Inserted by J.M.Garg) (For more photos & complete details, click on the links))



Cirsium eriophoroides (Hook. fil.) Petr. (E. Himalaya to China (SW. Sichuan, Yunnan) and Myanmar (Kachin): China South-Central, East Himalaya, Myanmar, Tibet as per POWO)


Cirsium interpositum Petr. (SE-Tibet, China (SW-Yunnan), India (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur), Bhutan as per Catalogue of Life)


Cirsium nishiokae Kitam. (India (C- to E-Himalaya, Darjeeling), Nepal as per CoL)



Cirsium shansiense Petr. (China (Anhui, Chongqing, SE-Fujian, S-Gansu, NE-Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, S-Hunan, NW-Jiangxi, Nei Mongol, E-Qinghai, S-Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan), NE-Tibet, India (NE-India, NW-Himalaya, Meghalaya), Myanmar [Burma], Bhutan, ?Vietnam as per Catalogue of Life)

Cirsium verutum (D.Don) Spreng.


Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten. (Europe to Central Siberia and Arabian Peninsula: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Altay, Austria, Azores, Baleares, Baltic States, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Central European Rus, Corse, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Krasnoyarsk, Kriti, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, Morocco, Netherlands, North Caucasus, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sardegna, Saudi Arabia, Sicilia, South European Russi, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tadzhikistan, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Tuva, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, West Himalaya, West Siberia, Xinjiang, Yemen, Yugoslavia)


Cirsium wallichii DC. (a highly variable species)

Images by Gurcharan Singh (Inserted by J.M.Garg) (For more photos & complete details, click on the links)





FLOWERING PLANTS OF INDIA, DICOTYLEDONS, Vol-I (Acanthaceae-Avicenniaceae) authored by S. Karthikeyan, M. Sanjappa and S. Moorthy and published by BSI, Kolkata in 2009 is an important document for names, authority and distribution of Asteraceae species in India.
As per this document (Karthikeyan et al., 2009) following species of Cirsium occur in India:
  1. Cirsium argyracanthum DC.
  2. C. arvense (L.) Scop.
  3. C. chinense Gardner & Champ. [synonym of C. lineare (Thunb.) Sch. Bip.]
  4. C. eriophoroides (Hook.f.) Petr.
  5. C. falconeri (Hook.f.) Petr. [var. falconeri; var. horrida]
  6. C. flavisquamatum Kitam.
  7. C. interpositum Petr.
  8. C. involucratum DC. [synonym of C. verutum (D. Don) Spreng.]
  9. C. nishiokae Kitam.
  10. C. phulchokiense Kitam.
  11. C. shansiense Petr.
  12. C. souliei (Franch.) Mattf.
  13. C. tibeticum Kitam.
  14. C. verutum (D.Don) Spreng.
  15. C. wallichii DC. [var. wallichii; var. cernua; var. fasciculata; var. glabrata; var. nepalensis; var. platylepis; var. wightii]
Scrutiny of these names in Plant List indicate two of them as synonyms as mentioned above.

From Floral Database of Tamilnadu :

Binomial Habit Notes Ref. Distrib.
Cirsium wallichii DC. var. wightii (Hook.f.) Vivek. is a synonym of Cirsium wallichii DC. Herb Evergreen
Forests, Open areas 
Flora of Tamil
Nadu, VOL. II, 1987
Dindigul, Nilgiri


Species with description & pictures in Flowers of India as on 20.4.14: 

Botanical name Synonyms Family Common name
Cirsium arvense Carduus arvensis, Serratula setosa, Cirsium setosum Asteraceae Creeping Thistle
Cirsium eriophoroides Asteraceae Wool Bearing Thistle
Cirsium falconeri Asteraceae Falconer’s Thistle
Cirsium verutum Cirsium argyracanthum, Cirsium involucratum, Cnicus argyracanthus Asteraceae Common Thistle
Cirsium wallichii Cirsium nepalense, Cnicus wallichii Asteraceae Wallich’s Thistle

Species with distribution in annotated checklist of Flowering plants of Nepal :
Cirsium falconeri (Hook. f.) Petr. (3000-4300 m; Himalaya (Kashmir to Bhutan), Burma, S. Tibet)
Cirsium flavisquamatum Kitam. (3300 m; Nepal)
Cirsium nishiokae Kitam. (3300 m; Nepal)
Cirsium phulchokiense Kitam. (1300-1500 m; Nepal)
Cirsium tibeticum Kitam. (3000 m; Himalaya (Nepal to Bhutan), Tibet)
Cirsium verutum (D. Don) Spreng. (750-2200 m; Afghanistan, Pakistan, Himalaya (Muree to Bhutan))
Cirsium wallichii DC.
Cirsium wallichii var. glabratum (Hook. f.) Wendelbo (1400-3500 m; Afghanistan, Chitral, Himalaya, China)
Cirsium wallichii var. wallichii DC. (2200 m; Himalaya (Nepal to Bhutan))


Some species found in India with description & keys from Flora of China :

Cirsium argyracanthum [Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan].

Cirsium arvense var. arvense [Afghanistan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Nepal; SW Asia, Europe].

Cirsium eriophoroides [Bhutan, China, India (Sikkim)].

Cirsium glabrifolium [India, China, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan].
Cirsium lineare [China, Japan, NE Thailand, Vietnam].
Cirsium shansiense [Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Vietnam].
Cirsium souliei [China, India (Sikkim)].
Cirsium verutum [Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam].




Forest Plants of Eastern India By Amal Bhusan Chaudhuri (1993):
Cirsium argyracanthum


Cirsium : 4 posts by 2 authors.

I have updated eFI (efloraofindia) page on Cirsium

Attempts have been made to incorporate most of the species available in India & nearby areas with details & keys directly or through links as far as possible. It’s quite possible that there may be some discrepancy in the accepted names & synonyms taken from other links.

Species discussed so far in efloraofindia are given at the bottom of the page in the form of links against Subpages. On clicking them one can see all the details.

If someone can provide complete list of Indian species with source references it will be wonderful.
Any comments/ corrections are welcome.

I have added the list of species known in India based on Karthikeyan et al. 2009.

Names in other links matches well with it.
FOC also specifies Cirsium glabrifolium to have range in India, which is not listed in Karthikeyan et al. 2009.
Any reasons ?

Yes it is not mentioned in Karthikeyan et al. 2009. Reasons unknown to me.


Pl. go through Cirsium (‎‎‎‎‎Asteraceae (Compositae)‎) page with images of species (done by me) in efloraofindia.

If you find any mis-identification, pl. let us know. If anybody can send images of other species of this genera (for incorporation in the website), if any, it will be really nice.
Also, if anybody is interested to take up the activity of inserting images on efloraofindia pages from efloraofindia posts, pl. let us know.


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