Flower-heads deep purple or sometimes white. Erect bracts, tipped black or purple. Seed pappus of long feathery hairs. Leaves dark green, often purple-flushed. Deeply pinnate, cottony below, hairy above. Lobes toothed, with very prickly margins. Erect hairy stem, spine-tipped wings. Height: To 130cm.
Hybrids can occur with Meadow Thistle, C. dissectum.
Abundant on damp ground. Grassland, woods, roadsides, hedgebanks.
Photographs above: Marsh Thistle. June 2006