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New Mexico Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum)
Perennial Forbs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
New Mexico Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum)

General: New Mexico Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum) is a two-year or short-lived perennial that spends the first year as a rosette of spiky leaves. In the second year, it sends up a flower stalk with more spiky leaves and topped with a spike-protected white flowerhead.

New Mexico Thistle is a fairly common component of vegetation communities in dry, well-drained sandy and gravelly areas on desert flats, bajadas, and moderate slopes in the lower mountains in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub) life zones.


Family: Sunflower (Asteraceae).

Other Names: Desert Thistle.

New Mexico Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum)

Plant Form: Basal rosette, then upright stalks topped with flowerheads.

Height: To about 6 feet.

Stems: Usually a single main stem that branches above to a few stems

Leaves: Gray, with hairs (tomentose). Basal leaves 4-8 inches, long and narrow with spiked lobes. Upper leaves few, small, spiny.

Flowers: Blooms in the spring. Inflorescence: flowerhead formed of many flowers. Flowers generally emerge from a round, spiky ball; flowers with long, upright petals.

New Mexico Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum)
Basal rosette

Seeds: achene.

Habitat: Rocky and dry, well-drained sandy and gravelly areas on desert flats, bajadas, and moderate slopes.

Elevation: 2,500 to 7,000 feet.

Distribution: Southern California to Colorado and New Mexico.

Comments: The seeds of this plant are a favorite for Lesser Goldfinches, who usually delay breeding until the seeds are ready to eat.

New Mexico Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum)
Spiky leaf
New Mexico Thistle (Cirsium neomexicanum)
Spiky flowerhead

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 141118

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