Skip to main content

Yellow star thistle

(Centaurea solstitialis)

Photo of yellow star thistle
Photo credit: Mark Schwarzlander, University of Idaho,

Winter annual (germinates in the fall and flowers the following May through September). 1.5-3’ tall.


Other names for this plant include:
  • Common names: golden star thistle, yellow cockspur, yellow centaury, St. Barnaby's thistle
  • Scientific names: Leucantha solstitialis
Ecological threat:
  • Reported in disturbed sides such as roadsides and pastures.
 Overview map of prohibited classification in WI
Prohibited (red) counties

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for yellow star thistle was based upon this literature review [PDF] developed by the department.


First-year plant leaves: Simple, deeply lobed, and 2-3” long.

Second-year plant leaves: Alternating leaves on stem become shorter and narrower with pointed tips as they move up the stem; the base of leaves creates a winged appearance; dull green color; covered with woolly hairs.

Flowers: Yellow flower heads are 1” wide and have spines at the base; one flower at the end of each stem.

Fruits & seeds: One plant can produce 100,000 seeds. They generally do not move far unless seeds cling to animal fur, feathers or humans.

Roots: Taproot.


Mechanical: Plants can be pulled, mowed, or tilled before bloom. Controlled burns in the early flowering stage and repeated for 3 consecutive years.

Chemical: Foliar spray of glyphosate, triclopyr, clopyralid or picloram.


Sources for content: Links for more information: