Was ripping remnants of grass after cutting them with my hands when I grabbed a handful got a sharp scratch bg this plant with spikes.

What is it?

Is it a cause for concern?enter image description here

2 Answers 2


Looks like a thistle. They are rather prickly. If it's not too much in the way they make an impressive plant with pretty flowers, though you may well want to cut it after it flowers and before it sets seed.


Image Source: Bladner32, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • 3
    Probably a different thistle species to the picture, but there are many and it doesn't really matter which in this case.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 12 at 21:03
  • 2
    The picture is purely intended as a representative thistle, to show the leaves sufficiently similar to the question's picture and the eventual flowers if one can overcome automatically ripping it out as a weed as "the done thing." Not making any attempt to figure out what species the question's thistle is, If you want to take a stab at that, feel free.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented May 13 at 1:59
  • @Ecnerwal I doubt I could get anywhere with trying to pin it down to the species level. I was just agreeing with your answer, and pointing out why any small mismatch in details didn't matter
    – Chris H
    Commented May 13 at 12:27
  • Should probably note that as well as being painfully prickly, most thistles spread their lower leaves such that the grass (or clover etc.) underneath dies, and develop a thick stem and root. Waiting for the flowers comes at a cost, even if you cut them afterwards.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented May 13 at 12:38
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirsium_vulgare this should be the thistle in question, according to the plant identification app I use (Flora Incognita, free app run by a German Uni, quite recommendable).
    – Sursula
    Commented May 13 at 12:46

I think it might be a nettle, stinging nettle to be precise; not that it matters much, both nettle and thistle are unwelcome visitors in lawns, its just that a stinging nettle can cause discomfort for some hours after contact IF you rub it or scratch it. If all you experienced was a sharp stab, then its likely thistle, but if you had continuing stinging sensations, more likely nettle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urtica

  • 9
    The leaves are the wrong shape for stinging nettles, and nettles don't have spikes between the hairs. Also the sensation of a nettles sting couldn't be confused with a scratch. I got quite a few nettle stings on my legs yesterday (off-road cycling). There was enough cumulative stinging and scratching from other vegetation that I could still feel it at bedtime
    – Chris H
    Commented May 12 at 21:03
  • 2
    Quite certainly not, given the shape of the stem, leaves, and the size of those spikes. I've had plenty of close encounters with stinging nettles, and that's not it. That's a trodden on thistle in some mighty sad environment.
    – Dan Mašek
    Commented May 12 at 21:48
  • 5
    Doesn't look even slightly like a nettle. You need to have another look at nettles - so you can recognise them before you walk into them!
    – Graham
    Commented May 12 at 21:58
  • The nettles are in the comments today! My son aged three fell in the nettle bed. | 'Bed' seemed a curious name for these green spears, | That regiment of spite behind the shed: | It was no place for rest... |
    – MackM
    Commented May 13 at 0:15
  • it's not a stinging nettle
    – jsotola
    Commented May 15 at 1:07

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