The genusCirsium comprises both gynodioecious and dioecious species. The observation of microsporogenesis in female plants ofC. montanum, C. oleraceum, C. palustre andC. spinosissimum shows that the male sterility is due to a degeneration of the tapetum. This degeneration occurs more or less early according to the species and, in the light of these results, a scheme of evolution in the male sterility mechanism is proposed. Furthermore, the male sterility mechanism inC. montanum is very similar to that previously found in female plants of the dioecious speciesC. arvense. This fact enhances the possibility of evolution of the dioecy ofC. arvense from the gynodioecy found in other species. According to these results, a general scheme of evolution of sexes in the genusCirsium is proposed.