Common names: Italian thistle
Description: Annual, member of the sunflower family. 8 inches to 6.6 feet
Flowers: Flower heads are thimble sized, rose colored, clustered in groups of 2 to 5, and coveredwith densley matted, cobweb-like hairs.
Leaves: Leaves are white and wooly underneath but hairless and green above, and deeply cut into 2 to 5 pairs of spiny lobes.
Reproduction: Produces two types of seed, brown and silver. Brown fall to the ground with the flower head and germinate at lower temperatures. Silver are disperesed by the wind and can remain dormant in the soil for up to 10 years. Having two types of seed dispersal gives this plant an advantage over many.
Flowering: Mid September to December.
Habitat and Ecology: Introduced from Mediterranean, southern Europe, and North Africa to Pakistan. May germinate in conditions where others find impossible, giving this weed the upper hand. Italian thistle finds disturbed, bare soil prime real estate; if there is dense ground cover it usually cannot establish.