Asteraceae (Composite Sunflower) Family
Identification: Wildflowers of Texas, Geyata Ajilvsgi, Shearer Publishing, Fredericksburg, Texas, page 309
Texas Thistle is an upright, bristly-spiny, woolly biennial or perennial, much-branched in the upper portion. Its preferred habitat is sandy or clayey loam in abandoned areas, disturbed sites, pastures and prairies. Distribution is occasional in the Escambia region.
The leaves are 4 to 9 inches long, alternate on the stem, numerous, clasping stem at base, dark green and smooth on the upper surface. The lower surface is felted with whitish hairs. Blades have 3 to 9 triangular or rounded lobes on each side. Each lobe is irregular, spiny-toothed. Basal leaves are larger, forming a winter rosette. Upper blades are small.
The flowers are heads, pink to rose-purple in color, solitary at the tip of a long, woolly, almost leafless stalk. Ray flowers are absent. Disk flowers are numerous, held in a cup of small prickly-tipped bracts. Flowers occur in early summer.
fruit is achene.
Texas thistle is especially attractive to butterflies and other insects. Larvae of of the Painted Lady butterfly feed on the foliage. Goldfinches eat the seeds and also use the silky fluff of the ripened seeds to line their nests.