Fine Art

Carduus Nutans Print by Otto Wilhelm Thome

Carduus nutans, Otto Wilhelm Thome

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Campanulids
Ordo: Asterales

Familia: Asteraceae
Subfamilia: Carduoideae
Tribus: Cardueae
Subtribus: Carduinae
Genus: Carduus
Species: Carduus nutans
Subspecies: C. n. subsp. alpicola – C. n. subsp. falcatoincurvus – C. n. subsp. granatensis – C. n. subsp. leiophyllus – C. n. subsp. maurus – C. n. subsp. micropterus – C. n. subsp. numidicus – C. n. subsp. nutans – C. n. subsp. perspinosus – C. n. subsp. platylepis – C. n. subsp. platypus – C. n. subsp. scabrisquamus – C. n. subsp. siculus – C. n. subsp. subacaulis – C. n. subsp. taygeteus – C. n. subsp. trojanus

Carduus nutans L., 1753.

Carduus nutans Boiss. ex Nym. = Carduus nutans subsp. platypus (Lange) Greuter


Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum 2: 821.


Hassler, M. 2018. Carduus nutans. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2018. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2018 Apr. 19. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2018. Carduus nutans. Published online. Accessed: Apr. 19 2018.
The Plant List 2013. Carduus nutans in The Plant List Version 1.1. Published online. Accessed: 2018 Apr. 19. 2018. Carduus nutans. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 19 Apr. 2018.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Carduus nutans in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 07-Oct-06.

Vernacular names
العربية: لسان منحني
azərbaycanca: Əyilən şeytanqanqalı
български: Наведен магарешки бодил
čeština: Bodlák nicí
Cymraeg: Ysgallen Bendrom
Deutsch: Nickende Distel
English: Musk Thistle
español: Cardilla
suomi: Nuokkukarhiainen
français: Chardon penché
italiano: Cardo rosso
Ligure: Gardo
Nederlands: Knikkende distel
polski: Oset zwisły
română: Ciulin
slovenčina: Bodliak ovisnutý
slovenščina: Kimasti bodak
svenska: Nicktistel
中文(简体): 垂花飞廉
中文(繁體): 垂花飛廉
中文: 垂花飞廉

Carduus nutans, with the common names musk thistle,[1] nodding thistle, and nodding plumeless thistle, is a biennial plant in the daisy and sunflower family Asteraceae. It is native to regions of Europe and Asia.[2]


Carduus nutans is a native plant of Eurasia.[2] It is an introduced species, and often a noxious weed, in other regions and on other continents.[2]

The plant grows from sea level to an elevation of about 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). It is found in neutral to acidic soils. It typically grows in meadows and grasslands, in heavily grazed land in areas such as pastures, and on open disturbed soil such as roadsides and building sites. It spreads rapidly in areas subjected to frequent natural disturbances such as landslides and flooding, but does not grow well in excessively wet, dry, or shady conditions.

Carduus nutans is usually a biennial, requiring 2 years to complete a reproductive cycle. However, it may germinate and flower in a single year in warmer climates. Seedlings may emerge at any time from spring to late summer and develop a rosette. Plants overwinter in the rosette stage, sending up a multi-branched flowering stem in mid spring of their second year.

Mature plants reach 1–1.5 metres (3.3–4.9 ft) in height with multi-branched stems. It has sharply spiny stems and leaves. The stem is cottony/hairy. The plants develop a rosette, with large leaves 30–60 centimetres (12–24 in) long.

The leaves are dark green, coarsely bipinnately lobed, with a smooth, waxy surface and sharp yellow-brown to whitish spines at the tips of the lobes. They are more or less hairy on top, and wooly on the veins below.[3]
Flower head
Blooming in grassland habitat

The plant bears showy red-purple flowers. The large globose flower heads, containing hundreds of tiny individual flowers, are 3–5 cm (rarely to 7 cm) in diameter and occur at the tips of stems. The flower heads commonly droop to a 90° to 120° angle from the stem when mature, hence its alternate name of "nodding thistle". Each plant may produce thousands of straw-colored seeds adorned with plume-like bristles. They are 4 to 6 cm across, with purple-red bracts.

The number of flowerheads per plant is site-dependent and ranges from about 20-50 on good sites and 1-20 on poor sites. Flowering occurs from late spring to late summer, and seed dissemination occurs approximately one month after the flowers form. A single flower head may produce 1,200 seeds and a single plant up to 120,000 seeds, which are wind dispersed. The seeds may remain viable in the soil for over ten years, making it a difficult plant to control.
Invasive species

Carduus nutans is an invasive species in various regions around the world, including in disturbed and agricultural settings, and in natural habitats.[4]

Musk thistle was introduced into eastern North America in the early 19th century, and has been an invasive species there since. It is declared a noxious weed in many U.S. states, Canadian provinces, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.[2][5] Previous populations in Southern California were eradicated, but it remains in northern California.[6]

BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
"Carduus nutans". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2017-12-20.
Rose, Francis (1981). The Wild Flower Key. Frederick Warne & Co. pp. 382–383. ISBN 0-7232-2419-6.
" | Morocco's Fascinating Flora". Retrieved 2020-05-28.
USDA . accessed 4.8.2013
Cal IPC—California Invasive Plants Council: Carduus nutans (musk thistle)

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