Artichoke Thistle

(Cynara cardunculus)

Artichoke thistle 

Artichoke thistle flower, © Kate Blood, CRC Weeds

Status of artichoke thistle in Tasmania?

  • Artichoke thistle is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of artichoke thistle are prohibited in Tasmania.
  • The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with artichoke thistle are laid out in the artichoke thistle Statutory Weed Management Plan.

What does artichoke thistle look like?

  • Artichoke thistle is a perennial (long-lived) herb which is very conspicuous in appearance. The stems are erect, strongly ribbed and covered in fine hairs. The leaves are grey-green above and woolly white below. The rosette leaves can be large (up to 90 cm), while the stem leaves are smaller and deeply divided into lobes. The leaves and leaf stalks have spines. The flowers are large and purple-blue in colour and surrounded by tough bracts which also end in a rigid spine. The seeds are dark brown or black and have a feathery tuft (called a pappus) reaching 4 cm.
  • Artichoke thistle is very similar to the cultivated globe artichoke C. scolymus. However globe artichoke is less spiny and has less divided leaves than artichoke thistle.
  • Seed germinates mainly in autumn. In its first year the plant forms a rosette (a whorl of leaves close to the ground), and the plant flowers in its second year. Flowering occurs from December to February.
  • Artichoke thistle spreads by seed. Seed is spread only short distances by wind. Seed is spread longer distances by water, animals, machinery and contaminated agricultural produce. Artichoke thistle can also be spread via root fragments during cultivation of the soil. Artichoke thistle has also been spread by the careless disposal of cut-flower waste.

Impacts of artichoke thistle

  • Artichoke thistle is a serious weed of pasture and crops, and heavy infestations can reduce access to areas.

Where does artichoke thistle occur?

  • Artichoke thistle is native to the Mediterranean region. Artichoke thistle is naturalised in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia.
  • Artichoke thistle has not naturalised in Tasmania. Artichoke thistle has been recorded as a contaminant of imported agricultural products and as a garden plant. Artichoke thistle has been recorded at McRobies Gully tip in Hobart and at the former Bridgewater Railway Station.

What you need to do

  • If you locate artichoke thistle anywhere in Tasmania, or if you find a plant that you think could be artichoke thistle, immediately contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 to report this weed.                                                                                                     
    See also
    Statutory Management Plan for Artichoke Thistle

    Other useful links

    Thistle Identification Poster
    Pest Genie

    Important Disclaimer
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