Carduus nutans

Carduus nutans_Musk Thistle_JM DiTomaso
Photo: Joseph DiTomaso

Common names: musk thistle; giant plumeless thistle; nodding (plumeless) thistle;

Carduus nutans (musk thistle) is a biennial or winter annual (family Asteraceae) found in disturbed open sites, roadsides, pastures, annual grasslands, and waste areas, but is mostly limited to the Klamath and Cascade Ranges, northern Sierra Nevada, and Modoc Plateau in California. Previous populations in southern California were eradicated.

Cal-IPC Rating: Moderate?

CDFA Rating: -*?


Plant Assessment Form - Information gathered by Cal-IPC on the impacts, rate of spread, and distribution of invasive plants in California. Does not include management information.

Species ID Card

Invasive Species ID Card - To support field identification of early detection species, Cal-IPC has designed a set of Species ID cards that can be downloaded, printed double-sided, and trimmed to size.

Weed Management Notes

  • Management Notes - Information on management techniques and effectiveness from the University of California Cooperative Extension’s Weed Research & Information Center.

Cal-IPC Newsletter Articles

Cal-IPC Symposium Presentations

Presentations are linked where available. Where a presentation is not available, find more information by reading the abstract in the Cal-IPC Symposia Archive.

Other Carduus nutans Information

  • Bugwood - National database from the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia.
  • CalPhotos - Images of plants taken mostly in California.
  • Calflora - Distribution map and records of this species in California.
  • CalWeedMapper - Distribution map of this species in California with ability to determine regional priorities.
  • EDDMapS - Distribution of this species in North America.
  • Jepson Interchange - Information on this plant's taxonomy, biology, and distribution from UC Berkeley's Jepson Herbarium.
  • USDA PLANTS Database - Information on identification and distribution, with links to websites in individual states.
  • Additional photos

    Carduus nutans_flower heads (in flower and in bud)_BobCase
    Carduus nutans (musk thistle) flower heads (in flower and in bud). Photo: Bob Case
    Carduus nutans_growth habit_BobCase
    Carduus nutans (musk thistle) growth habit. Photo: Bob Case
    Carduus nutans_rosette_BobCase
    Carduus nutans (musk thistle) rosette. Photo: Bob Case