Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Asterales - Family: Asteraceae
Despite its common name this is not a prickly plant, and in many respects it has more in common with the various knapweeds - for example Centaurea scabiosa - than with other so-called thistles.
A creeping perennial of damp grasslands and peat bogs, Meadow Thistle grows to a height of 50 to 60cm. Its ridged stems finely downy and its finely toothed leaves are green on the upper surface and whitish beneath. The flowers are reddish purple with heads 2 to 3cm across.
Most common in parts of western Ireland, Meadow Thistle is found throughout most of South Wales and the southwest of England, but it is increasingly rare further north and not recorded at all from mainland Scotland.
Meadow Thistle if found in damp grassland, including alkaline fens and some slightly acidic peat bogs.
In Britain and Ireland Meadow Thistle flowers first appear in June and continue into August.
A wide range of insects, including bees and butterflies, appear to be very fond of the flowers of Meadow Thistle..
Cirsium, the genus name, comes from Greek and means a kind of thistle. The specific epithet dissectum comes from Latin and means dissected.