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Common (vernacular) names applied to California vascular plants

compiled by Elizabeth Painter

up to date as of May 1, 2016

Common names (also referred to as vernacular names) are applied differently at different times and places by different users. This list is compiled from many sources and is intended to be as comprehensive as possible. It is not intended to indicate which common name is correct or preferred. Please send comments about this page to Elizabeth Painter (

TaxonCirsium occidentale var. californicum
Family common name(s)composite; composita; comp; aster; asterwort; asterworts; sunflower; daisy; dandelion
Genus common name(s)cirsium; thistle; true thistle; plume thistle; plume-thistle
Species common name(s)western thistle; cobwebby thistle; cobweb thistle; cob-web thistle; cob web thistle
Common name(s) generally applied to other taxa or multiple taxaCalifornia thistle, Californian thistle are applied inappropriately to Cirsium arvense; red thistle is applied to multiple Cirsium taxa
NotesCalifornia, Californian, Bigelow are proper names, so upper case preferable; Bigelows, Bigelov's, Bigelo are errors
Synonymy: The Jepson Manual (1993), FNA, PLANTS, etcCirsium californicum A. Gray
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