Carline Thistle (Carlina vulgaris)

Walk on the cliffs of Dorset or on the Purbeck Ridge at this time of year and you will almost certainly see a good number of these curious thistles. They may look they are the dying flowers of a daisy or thistle going to seed but these, are in fact, how they look when in full flower.

The Carline Thistle is quite common on chalk grassland everywhere in the southern half of Britain but it can be overlooked because it just looks dead! On closer examination, especially in bright sunshine, the flower glistens in silver and gold.

Identifying thistles is not easy! But out of the fifteen or so species you may encounter this one at least is quite distinctive.

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