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Plant Form: Erect annual or biennial herb.
Size: Up to 2 m tall.
Stem: Erect, with wings up to 1.5 cm wide, and spines to 5 mm long. Slightly woolly or cobwebby appearance.
Leaves: Grey-green, spiny, deeply lobed, lance shaped, up to 55 cm long.
Flowers: Purple heads up to 6 cm diameter, surrounded by spiny bracts.
Fruit and Seeds: Brown, 4-angled, wrinkled capsules.
Habitat: Pastures, irrigated and dryland cropping areas.
Distinguishing Features: Very similar to Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium), but less cobwebby in appearance, and generally larger flowerheads.