This thistle has many names: Canadian Thistle, Artichoke Thistle, Wild Artichoke. It is actually a member of the Sunflower Family. Tall stalks (4-7 feet) are crowned by a cluster of showy, bright purple thistle flower heads (2-3" in diameter). The lower head is oval and surrounded by stout spines. Deeply-lobed , thorny leaves, gray-green in color grow along the flower stalk. These plants also have the ability to colonize large areas of rangelands and grasslands because of their profuse root system. Considered a pest in California.
Photo: Coastal Northern California – June