SIR-see-um — Greek kirsion (kind of thistle) … Dave’s Botanary
fal-KON-er-ee — named for Hugh Falconer, Scottish doctor, geologist and botanist in India … Dave’s Botanary 

Asteraceae Fortnight Part 2-Discoid heads- Cirsium falconeri from Kashmir-GS30 :  Attachments (3). 1 post by 1 author.
Cirsium falconeri (Hook.f.) Petrak
Syn: Cnicus falconeri Hook.f
One of the most beautiful species of Cirsium found at altitudes above 2200 m. 
The whole plant is covered with whitish spines, even on upper surface of leaves. The heads are very large, cream coloured and nodding, Involucre bracts are woolly and with long pale spines.
Photographed from Kashmir. 

I missed this one.  Good, the two images from Gulmarg are correctly identified but the third (don’t understand why an image from near Manali would be added) does not match.  I shall be commenting further in due course. My focus is on Inula at present.

Very true, image from Manali should be excluded.

Is it Cirsium falconeri : 5 posts by 4 authors. Attachments (3)

Is it ‘Cirsium falconeri’
Photos taken at ‘Aru’ ‘अडू’ wildlife sanctuary, Lidder Valley, Jammu & Kashmir.
Date- 05th August 2009.

Yes, it is C. falconeri

At last, after viewing several postings claiming to be Cirsium falconeri, at last one that does seem to fit!  I shall be posting images of
C.falconeri myself in due course for comparison purposes.


Fwd: Cirsium falconeri ‘Falconer’s Thistle’ in Kashmir + an ‘Eastern Himalayan Form’ : 1 post by 1 author. Attachments (9)

Further to my recent posts re: Cirsium falconeri or in some cases thistle that are not this species – even its ‘Eastern Himalayan Form’.
I am posting images taken during my last visit to Kashmir a few years ago:
1-2 on Khelanmarg
3 expanse on Khelanmarg the Betula utlis on slope above
4-9 in Gulmarg
I consider ‘Falconer’s Thistle’ to be a magnificent, showy thistle – at least the one found in Kashmir.
Flowers of the Himalaya says this thistle is found in forest clearings and on grazing grounds @ 2700-4300m from Pakistan to SE Tibet.
There are, rather unusually 2 images of this thistle in ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’.
I have just read, for the first time, the text about Cirsium falconeri.  Polunin & Stainton state there are two distinct forms, “which may in the future be considered as separate”.
From the small amount of information I can glean from the photo taken in Nepal, I would suggest they do justify being considered separate species!
In case anyone reading this think that there are no mistakes in ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’. This is a guide of a very high standard and I am sure I have consulted it more than anyone alive.  A few errors did creep in.  Such as the misidentification of the Primula photographed in Kulu on Plate 82  (No. 863) of this book – it is not P.reptans but P.minutissima. This has, perhaps, contributed to the long-standing confusion between the two species – the foliage of which, as … correctly
has posted, can readily be told apart, provided you know what you are looking for.
So I ask all members of this group who have access to ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’ to compare the images 731 on Plate 70 photographed on Apharwat (see my attached images from here) with 731 on Plate 71.  They do NOT match!
Yes, species vary with plants in different locations, geographically, altitudinally or climatically but the specimen in Nepal is certainly a different taxon, I would suggest AT LEAST a different species!!
Flowers of the Himalaya described the ‘Kashmir Form’ as covered with whitish spines giving a silvery appearance.  Flower-heads globular, cream-coloured, nodding, 7-8.5cm across, involucral bracts densely woolly with very long pale spines.  Leaves linear acute, with triangular toothed or lobed margins with pale spines, leaf-surface covered with spines; stems robust, winged, spiny.  Apparently, the ‘East Himalayan Form’ has smaller purple flower-heads – plus, if the photo on Plate 71 is correct, other different features.
Cirsium falconeri is not covered in ‘The Supplement to Flowers of the Himalaya’.
Nevertheless, my questioning of the postings named as Cirsium falconeri on eFI are not all explained away by them being the ‘East Himalayan Form’.
Stewart records C.falconeri from N.Pakistan & Kashmir, sometimes common on alpine meadows @ 2300-3600m. The largest species of this genus in the region.
Just to confuse things further, ‘Himalayan Plants Illustrated’ have images of a Cirsium falconeri a & b – ‘b’ fits the Kashmir form. ‘a’ is very different. I cannot read Japanese to get any further details but will ask my eldest son (who teaches in Japan) to see if he can help.
Important notes covering Cirsium falconeri by Kitamura and Gould within ‘An Enumeration of the Flowering Plants of Nepal’  Vol III (1982) state “C.falconeri as recognised here is a very variable species.  Plants from Kashmir have leaves which are strongly spinsecent above, tomentose beneath, with lobes terminating in spines 1.5-2.5cm.  The involucres are woolly and densely coloured in long yellow spines.  Plants from the eastern Himalaya have leaves which are often sparsely spinescent above and with shorter spines on the lobes. Tomentum is sometimes absent from the leaves in involucres. , and involucral spines vary in length and density.  THE AMOUNT OF VARIATION SUGGESTS THAT SEVERAL SPECIES MAY BE INVOLVED AND FURTHER STUDY IS REQUIRED“.
They record species from Central & East Nepal @ 3000-4300m but not Western Nepal.  Distribution Kashmir to Bhutan, Myanamar, S.Tibet.
I have taken a look at Flora of Bhutan Vol 2 Part 3 (1982) which covers Cirsium.  Oddly, although they cover C.falconeri, which they do say is EXTREMELY variable in the Bhutan & Sikkim area they do not comment about Kitamura & Gould’s assertion that “several species” may be involved.   They record the ‘species’ from open hillsides & forest clearings @ 2745-4265m. There is a line drawing of what they consider to be C.falconeri which DOES NOT match C.falconeri in Kashmir….   They include species such as C.lipskyi, which I cannot at present relate to any species in Nepal (or further West).
It would help if I examined pressed specimens of Cirsium at the Natural History Museum herbarium in London (which I visited regularly in the 1980s and 1990s) but do not currently have the funds to do so.
The specimen collected for Falconer available on the Kew site is the ‘Kashmir’ form of C.falconeri see: http://apps.kew.org/herbcat/getImage.do?imageBarcode=K000250071 – although low resolution the large size of this thistle means its habit and details can be seen clearly. This matches with the images I have posted below.
There are quite a number of images supposedly of C.falconeri on google but I am sceptical of most – as for the photo taken in Bhutan, it looks ABSOLUTELY nothing like C.flaconeri!!
That is MORE THAN ENOUGH for anyone reading all this to digest.  I shall be commenting, in due course about the individual postings under the name C.falconeri on eFI  and also have some slides of this species from Kashmir and in cultivation which I may share in a separate post.
CLEARLY, this is a COMPLEX and COMPLICATED, HIGH VARIABLE THISTLE that requires further study.
Thistles are often overlooked, viewed as rather ‘weedy’ in appearance – though some are highly ornamental, including the ‘Kashmir Form’ of Cirsium falconeri.
I should think another factor is that the larger, spinier thistle would be a handful to collect, dry and press well – thus a further DETERRENT to them being well-represented (and thus better understood) in herbaria. IF species are under-collected and the specimens which exist in herbaria are of poor quality, it will come as no surprise that we do not know them well.
I trust anyone taking a close look at my images below will agree that this is a DISTINCTIVE thistle that should not be readily mistaken for.

Chris wrote this in 2016 after many threads where he says he will submit his own pictures. I see his pictures and wonder. he seems to only accept the flower heads at the end of their growing cycle as true Falconer’s thistle. we should take this with a grain of salt. any flower has many stages of development. take pictures as in  a stage of an end of life cycle of the thistle flower. none of his pictures are showing the disk of an open flower at its prime. how does one judge this judge to be a judge of all the cases of this thistle submitted over the years at this site and group emails

Fwd: Cirsium falconeri in cultivation : 1 post by 1 author. Attachments (2)
Here with a couple of images of the Kashmir form of Cirsium falconeri in cultivation in the UK in the 1980s taken as slides then scanned in.
I think these will further emphasise the differences between C.falconeri and other thistles growing in the Himalaya.


Cirsium falconeri submission : 3 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (6)- around 800 kb each.
Cirsium falconeri
Falconer’s Thistle
Family – Asteraceae
Photographed at Barot Valley, Himachal Pradesh 
Altitude – 2700 metres asl
Dated – 2 September 2018

Cirsium falconeri from Kashmir (Gulmarg)-GS31122021-2: 4 high res. images.
In a help to clarify our understanding of genus Cirsium, I am uploading my collection of Cirsium again.

Flora of British India had recorded following species under Cnicus, now Cirsium:  C. arvense, C. argyracanthum, C. involucratum, C.involucratum, C. falconeri, C. eriophoroides, C. griffithii, C. wallichii (with several varieties), C. sinensis.
BSI Flora of India had shifted C. arvense to Breea arvensis, but POWO considers C. arvense as accepted name; C. argyracanthum according to BSI Flora also includes C. wallichii var. wightii, C. involucratum is now C. verutum; C. griffithii of FBI is now C. interpositum; and C. sinensis now C. shansiense,
BSI Flora gives Following Key:
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
I am uploading C. falconeri to begin with, Characteristic features are tall habit, large drooping mostly solitary heads 6-7.5 cm across, and long spines on involucre bracts.
Photographed from Khillenmarg, Kashmir, alt. 3100 m, 17-8-2011.

Yes, I agree with you for this.

Cirsium falconeri from Kashmir (Gulmarg)-GS31122021-2: 6 high res. images.
Another population of C. falconeri from Gulmarg, Kashmir, altitude 2700, around 400 m lower than Khillenmarg population, plants taller, lighter in colour, more prominently drooping heads, 25-7-2011.

Yes, I agree with you for this.


Cirsium falconeri from Apharwat, Kashmir for validation-GS02022022-1: 2 high res. images.
This population was photographed from Apharwat, Kashmir, at altitude of about 3500 m, higher than two other populations from Gulmarg and Khillenmarg. The plants are stunted (may be due to higher altitude) and heads somewhat clustered. Clicked on 25-7-2011.

Yes, I agree.

looking at these images and my images from Gulmarg and Khillenmarg which look very similar, and then comparing with images on Flora of Bhutan Portal, I am really confused. They look so different. Hope we resolve the confusion soon.

What is the link of Flora of Bhutan, you are referring to?

Related observations of
Cirsium falconeri (Hook.f.) Petr. | Species (biodiversity.bt)
But this one looks closer, except for flower colour and erect heads
Cirsium falconeri (Hook.f.) Petr. by Dorji Duba on 15 September 2017 (biodiversity.bt)

These observations may not be correct.
Pl. go by POWOsyntype and GBIF specimens (pl. do not consider the images as these may be wrong, being taken from iNaturalist).

Yes …, POWO specimens exactly match mine.


Names of Plants in India :: Cirsium falconeri (Hook.f.) Petr.: Image not correct.

via Species‎ > ‎C‎ > ‎Cirsium falconeri (Hook.f.) Petr. … family:

Flowers of India Discussions at efloraofindia more views in flickr more views on Google Earth

SIR-see-um — Greek kirsion (kind of thistle) … Dave’s Botanary
fal-KON-er-ee — named for Hugh Falconer, Scottish doctor, geologist and botanist in India … Dave’s Botanary
commonly known asFalconer’s thistle • Nepaliगिद्ध प्वांखे giddh pwankhe
botanical namesCirsium falconeri (Hook.f.) Petr. … synonymsChamaepeuce horrida DC. • Cnicus falconeri Hook.f. • Cnicus horridus C.B.Clarke [Illegitimate] • Cnicus involucratus (C.B.Clarke) Hook.f. … status at The Plants List (2013). Version 1.1.

The plant photo may not be of Cirsium falconeri, however in this post, I am updating the names of Cirsium falconeri …

SIR-see-um — Greek kirsion (kind of thistle) … Dave’s Botanary
fal-KON-er-ee — named for Hugh Falconer, Scottish doctor, geologist and botanist in India … Dave’s Botanary
commonly known as: Falconer’s thistle • Dogri: भुस्स bhuss, धारू बगूल dharu bagul • Nepali: गिद्ध प्वांखे giddh pwankhe, थाकल thaakal
botanical namesCirsium falconeri (Hook.f.) Petr. … synonymsCnicus falconeri Hook.f. • Cnicus horridus (Hook.f.) C.B.Clarke … and more at POWO

Bibliography / etymology

~~~~~ ENGLISH ~~~~~
Falconer’s thistle
  • Flowers of India
  • this species is named for Hugh Falconer, 19th century Scottish doctor, geologist and botanist in India … read more about him at Wikipedia
~~~~~ DOGRI ~~~~~
भुस्स bhuss, धारू बगूल dharu bagul
  • Many thanks to OM Prakash Vidyarthi for help with these name … facebook
~~~~~ NEPALI ~~~~~
गिद्ध प्वांखे giddh pwankhe
थाकल thaakal
  • Many thanks to Sajan Subedi for help with this name … flickr
  • Many thanks to Saroj Kumar Kasaju for help with this name … efloraofindia
~~~~~ x ~~~~~