Musk Thistle

Genus Carduus
Aster Family (Asteraceae/Compositae)



Near Alta -- Wasatch Mountains


Musk Thistle
(Carduus nutans)

The musk thistle is a native of southern Europe. It was introduced to this country about a hundred years ago, and has now spread and become a nuisance in fields and pastures in many of the western states.


Along a frontage road near Springville, Utah

The flower heads are large and showy, and somewhat flattened on top. They are 2 or 3 inches in diameter, with broad spiny bracts surrounding the base. The flower heads are usually leaning to one side rather than upright. The scientific name (Carduus nutans) means "Nodding Thistle".

See a Mountain Thistle
(Cirsium eatonii)