SCOTCH THISTLE, Onopordum acanthium L. 1, upper portion of plant showing stem, leaves, and flower heads; 2, seed. Biennial, rarely winter annual, reproducing by seed. Leaves at base of plant in rosette first year, coarse, nearly fleshy, grayish with dense hairs, appearing almost cottony at center of rosette. Stem erect, 2 to 6 feet (0.6 to 1.8 m) tall, strongly branched with upper branches taller than terminal flower. Stem strongly winged, with wings continuous and lobes spined. Stem leaves lobed, not deeply cut, lobes with sharp spines. Flower heads 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) wide, flattened, reddish-purple, short spines on bracts becoming harsh and sharp at maturity. Blooms from mid-June through July with seed maturing through July and August. Seeds about 3/16 inch (4 to 5 mm) long, plump, dark brown to black, and rugose or wrinkled. When mature, seeds are forced out of head by crowding. Pappus short, straw-colored, with stiff hairs but not plumed. Found in pastures, meadows, and noncropland.