This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Stemless, or with very short stem (var. caulescens Gremli).
A thick, woody stock bearing a tuft of spreading, prickly, pin-natifid, glabrous leaves, from the centre of which rises one, rarely more, flower-heads. Involucre ovoid, not cottony, with numerous lanceolate, rather obtuse bracts. Florets purple.
Dry mountain pastures, especially on limestone, and extending to a height of 6800 feet.
Eastern, Central, and Western Alps. Temperate Europe and Northern Asia, extending to Southern Scandinavia. British.
An erect, light green glabrous thistle, from 2 to 3 feet high. Stems sometimes slightly branched, and leafy at the top. Leaves soft, embracing the stem with rounded lobes, pinnatifid, more or less lyrate, with large segments edged with cilia, not spiny; the upper leaves undivided. Involucral leaves linear-lanceolate, ending in a short, soft spine. Flower-heads large, few, of a dirty green, close together and with yellowish floral leaves extending beyond them.
Central and Southern Europe, extending as far north as Paris and Normandy.
This very spiny species, with conspicuous greenish white involucral bracts, densely leafy stem, and dull yellow flowers, sometimes descends to the sub-Alps, but it more frequently/ is truly Alpine (up to 9000 feet in Dauphiny), and frequently large areas of damp mountain-sides are covered with it, as, e.g. by the Lognan Inn, above Argentiere. It was figured and described in Alpine Plants of Europe, p. 164. Flowers, July to September.
Eastern, Central, and Western Alps, Jura.
Not prickly. Stems 2-3 feet high, with a little cottony wool, and furrowed. Leaves clasping the stem, lanceolate, green and glabrous above, white and cottony beneath, edged with small bristly teeth; root-leaves sometimes lobed. Flower-heads single on long, rather stout peduncles. Involucral bracts glabrous, lanceolate, often purplish.
Mountain pastures in the sub-Alps. June to August. Rather local.
Mountains of Central Europe and Asia, and hills of Northern Europe, including Britain.
Differs from Cirsium in the threads of the pappus being glabrous and never plumose or feathery.
Stem 2-3 feet high, erect, branched at the top, cottony, winged and spiny. Leaves soft, whitish beneath, toothed, with spiny cilia, lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, decurrent; stem-leaves lyrate pinnatifid. Flower-heads sessile in a small, close bunch. Involucre globular, glabrous, the bracts being pointed and mucro-nate. Flowers purple.
Damp mountain woods and pastures in the Alps and sub-Alps, and occasionally lower. July, August.
Central Europe, Switzerland, Jura, Vosges, Au-vergne, Dauphiny, Savoy, Maritime Alps.