Carduus nutans L.
Family: Asteraceae
musk thistle, nodding plumeless thistle, nodding thistle
Carduus nutans image
Robert Bierman  
Etymology: Nutans = (Latin) nodding.
Plants
: erect, biennial, 1'-7' tall forb; stems often spiny-winged

Leaves
: deeply lobed

Flowers
: head 1 1/2"-3" wide with pink disk flowers; inflorescence usually a solitary, often nodding head at the ends of the branches on long, smooth stalks; blooms June-Oct.

Fruits
: 4-angled, dry seed on fluffy, but not feathery pappus

Habitat
: disturbed areas, roadsides

Invasiveness
: Restricted Invasive - Eradicate!

Conservation Status
: Introduced - naturalized; ecologically invasive
Robust biennial 1-2 m tall, the large solitary heads with showy purple corollas. Leaves lanceolate to oblanceolate, shallowly to deeply undulate-pinnatifid, the primary and secondary lobes obtuse, armed with stout, white spines, glabrous, the bases decurrent forming spiny wings along the stem except on the cottony peduncles. Heads 5-8 cm wide; involucre 1.5-3 cm high; bracts glabrous, wide above, contracted near the base and reflexed, tapering to a stout spine. Achenes ca 3.5 mm long, yellowish, slightly furrowed. 2n= 16 (Poddubnaja 1931, ex Darlington 1955).

Johnson, M.E. and H.H. Iltis. 1963. Preliminary reports on the flora of Wisconsin: No. 48. Compositae Family. Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. 52:255-342.

Native to Europe, Asia and Northern Africa, in SE Wisconsin a recent introduction (see map), rare though locally abundant in Jefferson, Waukesha and Walworth counties, where it may produce impenetrable stands in abandoned hog pastures [cf. Johnson, Beery, & F. S. Iltis 27-61 (WIS) from near Troy], and sporadic in disturbed fields or roadsides, Flowering from mid-June to early July; fruiting from mid-June to August.

The typical variety, not known from Wisconsin, has pubescent leaves, smaller heads and cobwebby involucral bracts.

Johnson, M.E. and H.H. Iltis. 1963. Preliminary reports on the flora of Wisconsin: No. 48. Compositae Family. Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. 52:255-342.