Musk Thistle

Carduus nutans

Photo of Musk Thistle
Photo by Dr. John Meade, weed scientist emeritus
Rutgers NJAES Cooperative Extension

Musk thistle is also called nodding thistle because the mature flower bends over and nods it's head. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has introduced an insect which burrows into the seed and prevents germination. This biological control is locally effective. Most of our plants are from seed blown in from Pennsylvania. It is a biennial and the first year rosette is quite distinctive. A problem mostly of perennial crops and roadsides.

Additional Images


  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences