Above: Musk Thistle at rest area 17 on highway 90. (7/2/22).
Musk Thistle - Carduus nutans (Introduced - naturalized; ecologically invasive)
Native to Europe, Asia and Northern Africa, Musk Thistle is a recent introduction to SE Wisconsin and grows in disturbed areas like roadsides.
Musk Thistle is a biennial, flowering plant. Biennial means that it takes two seasons to complete their life cycle The first season they germinate and create a rosette. The second season they flower.
Musk Thistle grows 1' to 7' tall. Stems are often spiny and winged.
Musk Thistle has large solitary heads with showy purple corollas that are between head 1 1/2" - 3" wide.
Other names include: Nodding plumeless thistle, Nodding thistle.
Above: Musk Thistle bracts on July 2, 2022.
For more information on Musk Thistle, visit Wikipedia.
Or, visit the UW-Madison Wisconsin State Herbarium website page about Musk Thistle.
Or, download a pdf about Musk Thistle from the University of Wisconsin Extension's 2017 Weed Identification Series
Or, to eradicate, visit the Wisconsin DNR website on Musk Thistle.
Or, to compare it other Biennial thistles (Bull and Plumeless) download a Biennial Thistle Comparison pdf from the University of Wisconsin Extension's 2017 Weed Identification Series/Biennial Thistle Comparisons
Above: Musk Thistle at rest area 17 on highway 90 on July 2, 2022.
Above: 1913 Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans) drawing.
Above: Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans) botanical illustration from the Atlas des plantes de France circa 1891.
Above: Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans) botanical illustration by Christiaan Sepp circa 1807.