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Musk Thistle

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Musk thistle
Musk thistle, flower - Photo by Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte
Scientific Name: 
Carduus nutans L. (ITIS)
Common Name: 
Musk thistle, nodding thistle
Native To: 
Eurasia (Zouhar 2002)
Date of U.S. Introduction: 
First recorded in 1852 (Zouhar 2002)
Means of Introduction: 
Accidental, possibly through ballast water (Zouhar 2002)
Crowds out native species and forage for livestock (Zouhar 2002)

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status

University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
Provides state, county, point and GIS data. Maps can be downloaded and shared.


University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.


Google. YouTube; Ag PhD: Information for Agriculture.

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Musk Thistle.

Council or Task Force

Alberta Invasive Species Council (Canada).

See also: Fact Sheets for more information about individual invasive species, including those listed as "Prohibited Noxious" and "Noxious" under the Alberta Weed Control Act

University of Alaska - Anchorage. Alaska Center for Conservation Science.
See also: Non-Native Plant Species List for additional factsheets (species biographies) and species risk assessment reports of non-native species present in Alaska and also non-native species currently not recorded in Alaska (potential invasives)
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.
University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Centre for Invasive Species Solutions; Atlas of Living Australia; Australian Government. Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Federal Government
USDA. FS. Rocky Mountain Research Station. Fire Sciences Laboratory.
USDA. NRCS. National Plant Data Center.

USDA. ARS. National Genetic Resources Program. GRIN-Global.

International Government
New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (Australia).

Tasmania Department of Natural Resources and Environment (Australia).

State and Local Government
Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.
California Department of Food and Agriculture.
See also: Included on California's noxious weed list; see Encycloweedia: Program Details for additional resources

Missouri Department of Conservation.

See also: Invasive and Problem Plant Control (scroll to Invasive Plants section) for more information to help you identify and control most common invasive plants in Missouri

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

See also: Invasive Plant Fact Sheets for plant species (trees, shrubs, vines, herbs and aquatic plants) that have impacted the state's natural lands

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Colorado Department of Agriculture. Conservation Services Division. Noxious Weed Program.


University of Arkansas. Cooperative Extension Service.

See also: Arkansas Forage Management Guides for more factsheets
Colorado State University Extension.
Colorado Weed Management Association.
University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Cooperative Extension.


  • Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Carduus nutans. [Accessed Mar 19, 2015].
  • Zouhar, K. 2002. Carduus nutans. In: Fire Effects Information System. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.