Family: Asteraceae
Common Name: Globe Thistle

These hardy, herbaceous perennials are widely distributed, from Europe and the Mediter­ranean, to tropical Africa and central Asia. Members of the daisy family, they are well suited to borders and also look attractive planted in drifts. The spiky, grayish green leaves form rosettes from which the globe-like, spiky flower heads emerge on tall stems. The individual flowers are either steel blue or white. They make excellent dried flowers, particularly for winter arrangements, as the metallic sheen of the flower heads remains for some time after drying.


E. bannaticus, from south-eastern Europe, grows to 1 m (3 ft) or more high. It has spiny, gray-green leaves and blue-gray flower heads in summer. Cultivar 'Blue Globe' has deep blue flowers. It will reflower if the stems are cut back after first bloom. 'Taplow Blue' has bright blue flower heads.

E. ritro, small globe thistle, to 60 cm (24 in), has deeply cut, prickly leaves, glossy green above and downy below, and bright blue flower heads in summer. This species is suitable for drying.

E. sphaero­cephalus, great globe thistle, forms large clumps, to 2 m (6 ft), with silver-gray flower heads in summer and spiny, gray-green foliage.


Echinops does well in any garden soil in full sun. Propagate from seed sown in a sunny position, root cuttings or by division.


Zone 3 for the species below.