Arizona Thistle ( Cirsium arizonicum ) is a member of the sunflower family and common across the south west. The thistle has a two year live span. For the first year, it thrives as a low lying rosette of thorns. The second year of life, the plant springs into action and can grow up to four feet tall and grows a flower stalk to hold a purple colored flower head high into the air. The flower is known to bloom in red, pink and purple in color.
The plant protects itself with some impressive thorns which grow from each of its lobed leaves. The spiny leaves are oblong in shape with pinate lobes typically are about .5 inches long at the end of a 4 – 8 inch leaf.
The Arizona Thistle is typically found at higher elevations between 7,000 and 12,000 feet in elevation. They favor rocky, dry well drained location in desert mountain ranges. The plant typically flowers in the summer time, although the timing may vary depending on rainfall and location. Plants may produce from one to over one hundred flower heads and its bright purple ball like appearance