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You are here: Home / Plants / Species Profiles / Musk Thistle
Species Profiles

Musk Thistle

Musk ThistleScientific name: Carduus nutans L. (ITIS)

Common names: Musk thistle, nodding thistle

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Selected Resources

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)

Impact: Crowds out native species and forage for livestock (Zouhar 2002)

Current U.S. Distribution:



Selected Resources:

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Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual - Musk Thistle
Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council.

Fact Sheet: Nodding Thistle (Jan 2014; PDF | 700 KB)
Alberta Invasive Plants Council (Canada).


Alaska Exotic Plants Information Clearinghouse (AKEPIC): Species Biography - Musk Thistle and Related Thistle Species (Feb 7, 2011; PDF | 170 KB)
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).

Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States - Musk Thistle
University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Texas Invasives Database - Carduus nutans

Invasive Species Compendium - Carduus nutans
CAB International.

Global Invasive Species Database - Carduus nutans (herb)
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.


Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) - Carduus nutans
USDA. ARS. National Genetic Resources Program.

Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) - Carduus nutans
USDA. FS. Rocky Mountain Research Station. Fire Sciences Laboratory.

Plant Profile for Carduus nutans - PLANTS Database - Nodding Plumeless Thistle
USDA. NRCS. National Plant Data Center.

Weeds in Australia - Nodding Thistle (Carduus nutans)
Australian Government. Department of the Environment.

Weed Profile: Nodding thistle
New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (Australia).

Nodding Thistle
Tasmania Department of Primary Industries and Water (Australia). Weeds, Pests, and Diseases.


Encycloweedia: Data Sheet - Carduus genus
California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Included on California's noxious weed list; see Encycloweedia: Program Details for additional resources.

Noxious Weed Species - Musk Thistle
Colorado Department of Agriculture. Conservation Services Division. Noxious Weed Program.

Musk Thistle - Noxious Weed Identification List
State of Colorado. Jefferson County. Weed and Pest Management Program.

Musk Thistle Control
Missouri Department of Conservation.

Invasive Plants in Pennsylvania: Musk Thistle (PDF | 254 KB)
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Class B Noxious Weed: Musk Thistle
Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.

Musk or Nodding Thistle (Carduus nutans)
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


Musk Thistle (PDF | 567 KB)
University of Arkansas. Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Musk Thistle
Colorado State University. Cooperative Extension.

Noxious Weed Information - Musk Thistle (B List)
Colorado Weed Management Association.

Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth - Musk Thistle
Mississippi State University. GeoResources Institute.

Musk Thistle - Noxious Weeds of Nebraska (PDF | 411 KB)
University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Cooperative Extension.


BioBullies - Musk Thistle
Natural Biodiversity (Western Pennsylvania).

Musk Thistle
Plant Conservation Alliance. Alien Plant Working Group.


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.

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Last Modified: Jun 16, 2016
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