by Eleanor Dietrich, Florida Panhandle Wildflower Alliance
There are six different species of thistle that grow in northwest Florida and the tall robust one with purple or yellow flowers that you often see on the roadsides in the spring is the Purple thistle (Cirsium horridulum). But this is another more delicate thistle, Leconte’s thistle (Cirsium lecontei), that blooms later in the summer and into fall. It will typically grow in open wet savannas such as you find in the Apalachicola National Forest. It is a composite that has only the tubular disk flowers that are a light pink in color.