Musk Thistle

Carduus nutans L.

Musk thistle is a member of the Aster family, Thistle tribe. It is an introduced biennial, winter annual, or rarely annual, which reproduces by seed. The first year’s growth is a large, compact rosette from a large, fleshy, corky taproot. The second year stem is erect, spiny, two to six feet tall and branched at the top. The leaves are alternate, deeply cut or lobed with five points per lobe, very spiny, three to six inches long and extend (clasp) down the stem. The waxy leaves are dark green with a light midrib and mostly white margins. The large and showy flowers are terminal, flat, nodding, 1½ to 2½ inches broad, purple, rarely white, and surrounded by numerous, lance-shaped, spine-tipped bracts. Blooms appear in late May and June and set seed in June or July. Seeds are straw-colored and oblong. Musk thistle is commonly found in pastures, roadsides, and waste places. It prefers moist, bottom land soil, but can be found on drier uplands, also. It is becoming an increasing problem throughout Colorado.  Musk can be mechanically controlled with a shovel.  To find out more click here

Musk thistle Fact/Info Sheet (PDF) Click Here

Mixing Herbicides for Houndstongue and Thistle

musk rosette
musk flowers
super musk
some animals eat part of musk