Musk Thistle

musk-thistleMusk Thistle
(Carduus nutans L)

Life Span: Biennial (occasionally annual)
Origin: Eurasia
Reproduction: Seeds

This is the most common of the Noxious Weeds that can be found throughout Nebraska. It was introduced into the United States in the early 1900’s as an ornamental. It originated from Southern Europe and Western Asia.

The reason this plant is considered noxious is because :
1. Each plant generates thousands of seeds.
2. There are no natural predators for the plant in America.
3. It is very aggressive, competing with good vegetation and crops.
4. Negative impact on Agriculture.

Musk Thistle begins as a rosette in the Fall and Spring. It can be easily identified as a thorny patch with leaves that have a white midrib (center) and a white edge on the outer part of the leaves. The Musk Thistle can reach a height of almost 10 feet in some cases, usually averaging around 5 to 6 feet depending on competition. It is known for its large purple blossoms found on different branches. These blossoms can contain hundreds to thousands of seeds, each. A full grown Musk Thistle can be easily identified from other thistles by the lack of thorns from the last leaf to the blossom on the terminal stem.

For a more detailed description of Musk Thistle, check out the Nebraska Weed Control Association Website.