Wavyleaf Thistle (Cirsium undulatum)
A native plant of Utah's foothills and rangeland, wavyleaf thistle should not be confused with the noxious Canada thistle that invades our farmland, gardens and disturbed areas. This thistle is usually found growing on dry open soil from British Columbia to Texas and as high as 9,500 ft in elevation.
This member of the Asteraceae family bears rose-purple flower heads that can be well over two inches wide and contrast nicely with the whitish-gray stems and leaves.
The generic name comes from the Greek cirsos, meaning "a swollen vein" for which early herbalists thought the thistle was a remedy. The specific name, undulatum refers to the wavy leaf margins. This species was named by the German botanist Curt Sprengel (1766 - 1833).
Look for this native beauty growing throughout the natural area at Red Butte and on your next trip to Utah's public lands.