Afghan thistle

Solanum hystrix

Afghan Thistle is a very prickly, sprawling, colony forming herb with perennial underground stems. It has a somewhat annual top to 30 cm high, with many spines to 15 mm long on the stems, leaves and the calyx. The leaves are 3-15 cm long, shiny, yellow-green and deeply lobed, with simple and gland-tipped hairs as well as the yellow spines. The flowers are pale blue or white and 1.5-3 cm across with yellow anthers from January to March and September to November. The berry is globular, 1.5-2 cm across, at first green but turning black at maturity and mostly hidden by the enlarged prickly calyx.
It is a native species occurring in the wheatbelt and goldfields but has become a weed of crops, pastures, waste land and alongside roads and railway lines. It flowers in spring and summer.
A similar very prickly species, Solanum hystrix, which is native to South Australia, has become naturalised at Perenjori and Norseman. Solanum hystrix differs in having few or no hairs.

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