Musk Thistle

Carduus nutans

Musk thistle
The large, terminal flower heads are why it is also called “nodding thistle”

Musk thistle, also called nodding thistle, is a tap-rooted biennial that reproduces by wind-dispersed seeds. The flower is generally 1½ to 3 inches in diameter and bright pink in color. Robust plants have the ability to produce over 100 flowers, which can produce up to 20,000 seeds per plant. The leaves are dark green with a light-colored outline (sometimes is described as a “holly-like”), deeply lobed, and have a spiny margin. This plant often grows from 3-6 feet in our area.

In Teton County, musk thistle is a very successful invader, and can be found in a variety of habitats. It often prefers disturbed soils and irrigated pastures.

For advice on controlling this invader or for a free consultation of your Teton County residence, please contact Teton County Weed & Pest District at 733-8419.

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