Illustrated Guide to
of New Zealand
Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
Zealand Plant Protection Society
Publication or other use of images or descriptive
text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is
obtained from the authors and publisher.
of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always
Available from Touchwood
biennial thistle that grows from a rosette that can be very large,
to a well-branched 'shrub' up to 1.5 m tall under fertile conditions.
Composite flower heads up to 5 cm across, purple-coloured, later
producing seeds with a mass of pappus hairs or thistledown. Leaves
are hairy on both surfaces, and have spines on the upper surface.
Probably the most common thistle in New Zealand.
Reddish-purple, up to 6 cm long by 5 cm across, solitary or in
two- or three-flowered terminal clusters. Outer bracts (small
green, leaf-like structures forming the outside of the flower
heads) slightly woolly-hairy, each with a strong spine about 4
mm long. Flowers Nov-Mar.
Narrow, egg-shaped, pale achenes about 4 mm long by 1.5 mm across,
each with a feathery pappus 20-25 mm long.
Dark green, to 30 cm long by 10 cm wide, prickly-hairy on upper
surface, white-cottony on underside. Deep lobes tipped with strong
spines. On flowering stem, lower leaves are stalked and those
further up are stalkless.
Stout, erect, furrowed, branched, with spiny wings.
Long fleshy taproot.
Pasture, waste places,
arable land, disturbed forest and road-sides.
New Zealand. Originally from Eurasia and north Africa.
One of the most abundant
thistles in NZ. In pasture it seems to be strictly a biennial,
germinating in winter or spring, surviving its first summer as
a rosette and then flowering in its second summer. It is rarely
eaten by sheep or cattle, but goats will graze it once it has
started to flower. Appears in very large numbers after fire or
soil disturbance. Subject to a Pest Plant Management Strategy
in one or more regions. Check with the regional council for details.
The woolly-headed thistle
(Cirsium brevistylum) has wingless stems with cobwebby
hairs, leaves with woolly undersides, uncommon in grassland, river
flats and waste ground in southern NI.
of botanical name
name for thistle; vulgare (Lat.) = common.