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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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Council or Task Force

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 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


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 MidSouth - Musk Thistle
Mississippi State University. Geosystems Research Institute.

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.

Federal Government

U.S. National Plant Germplasm System - Carduus nutans
USDA. ARS. National Genetic Resources Program. GRIN-Global.

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

PLANTS Database - Nodding Plumeless Thistle
USDA. NRCS. National Plant Data Center.

International Government

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

NSW WeedWise: Nodding thistle
New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (Australia).

Declared Weeds Index - Nodding Thistle
Tasmania Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and Environment (Australia).

State Government

Encycloweedia: Data Sheet - Carduus genus
California Department of Food and Agriculture.
See also: 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.

Field Guide: Invasive - Musk Thistle (Nodding Thistle)
Missouri Department of Conservation.

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

Invasive Plants in Pennsylvania: Musk Thistle (PDF | 254 KB)
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

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. Cooperative Extension Service.

See also: Arkansas Forage Management Guides for more factsheets

Natural Resources Series: Range - Musk Thistle
Colorado State University Extension.

Noxious Weed Information - Musk Thistle
Colorado Weed Management Association.

Noxious Weeds of Nebraska - Musk Thistle
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.

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Last Modified: Apr 28, 2018
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