- Nodding thistle is one of the most serious weeds in North America. It is unpalatable to wildlife and livestock and often forms dense, impenetrable stands in pastures and rangelands. It readily colonizes disturbed sites in many different habitats . A single large terminal head can produce as many as 1200 cypselae. Efforts to control musk thistle infestations with Rhinocyllus conicus, a European seed head weevil, have met with some success, but concerns have been raised because this parasite also attacks native Cirsium species. [source]
- This flower is pretty, but the leaves are terribly prickly. Farmers HATE thistles, they ruin their livestocks' fields . It is actually against the law to have this plant on your property in some states!
- Thistles are composite flowers, in the Aster family .
- Despite their nasty reputation, they do have their redeeming qualities --- they provide nectar for butterflies, bees, and other insects and the tiny seeds are favorites of small birds like goldfinches.
- This flower is pretty, but the leaves are terribly prickly. Farmers HATE thistles, they ruin their livestocks' fields. It is actually against the law to have this plant on your property in some states! W
- Thistles are composite flowers, in the Aster family.
- Despite their nasty reputation, they do have their redeeming qualities --- they provide nectar for butterflies, bees, and other insects and the tiny seeds are favorites of small birds like goldfinches.
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in English:
Chardon Penche, Musk Thistle, Nodding Plumeless Thistle, Nodding Plumeless-Thistle, Nodding Thistle, Plumeless Thistle
Common Names in French:
Chardon Pench, Chardon Penché
Common Names in Portuguese:
The largest family of flowering plants , the Compositae (Asteraceae), comprising about 1,100 genera and more than 20,000 species and characterized by many small flowers arranged in a head looking like a single flower and subtended by an involucre of bracts. A head may consist of both ray flowers and disk flowers, as in the sunflower, of disk flowers only, as in the burdock, or of ray flowers only, as in the dandelion.
or biennials [perennials
], 30-200(-400) cm. spiny
, ± tomentose
, sometimes glabrate
. Stems erect
to much branched, (spiny-winged) . Leaves basal and cauline; petiolate
or sessile; blade
spiny dentate, often 1-2-pinnately lobed
. Heads discoid
, borne singly or 2-20 in dense clusters
arrays. (Peduncles naked or leafy-bracteate, spiny-winged or not winged
.) Involucres cylindric
to spheric. Phyllaries many in 7-10+ series, linear
to broadly ovate
, margins entire, apices ascending
, acute, spine-tipped. Receptacles flat, epaleate, bearing setiform
("flattened bristles"). Florets several-many; corollas white to pink or purple, ± bilateral
long, slender, throats
, abruptly expanded from tubes, lobes
bases sharply short-tailed, apical appendages
; style branches: fused portions with slightly, minutely puberulent
, swollen basal nodes, distally papillate
or glabrous, distinct
portions very short. Cypselae ovoid
, slightly compressed
, faces smooth
. glabrous, attachment scars
; pappi persistent
or falling in rings
. of many minutely barbed
, basally connate
or setiform, minutely barbed scales ("minutely flattened bristles"). x = 8, 9, 10, 11, 13.
Species ca. 90: introduced ; Eurasia , Africa.
Species Carduus nutans
or biennials, 40-200+ cm. Stems glabrous
teeth of wings
to 10 mm, wing spines 2-10 mm.
tapering to winged
10-40 cm, margins
; cauline sessile, shorter, margins less divided
, glabrous or
. Heads borne singly or in corymbiform
sometimes a few axillary
, at least terminal
, often nodding
, 20-40 mm. Peduncles 2-30 cm, unwinged
distally or throughout, finely tomentose. Involucres hemispheric
20-60 mm × 20-70 mm. Phyllaries lanceolate to ovate
outer and middle
2-4 mm wide and spreading
2-7 mm wide, proximally glabrous or ±
tomentose, distally glabrous to minutely scabridulous
. spine tips
1-4 mm, inner phyllaries with unarmed
, straight or twisted tips.
Corollas purple, 15-28 mm, lobes
2.5-3 times longer
Cypselae golden to brown, 4-5 mm; pappus bristles
mm. 2n = 16. Flowering late spring-summer (May-Sep).
Carduus nutans is part of a variable complex that has been treated as one to several species or as a single species with several subspecies or varieties. The New World plants apparently represent multiple introductions, probably representing more than one of these taxa. Various intermediates are evident, and many specimens cannot be reliably assigned. Insufficient evidence exists to reliably apply the names of the various segregate entities to North American material . In a biosystematic study, two subspecies of C. nutans were differentiated in Canada (A. M. Desrochers et al. 1988). Subspecies nutans was characterized as having arachnoid phylla-ries with the terminal appendage only slightly wider than the appressed phyllary base, moderately to densely pubescent leaf bases, and a head diameter of 1.5-3.5 cm. Subspecies leiocephalus in contrast has glabrous phyllaries with the terminal appendage definitely wider than the base, glabrous or slightly pubescent bases, and heads 1.8-7 cm in diameter. Subspecies nutans was distributed in eastern Canada from Newfoundland to southern Ontario and subsp. leiocephalus from Ontario to British Columbia. Whether the results of the study (Desrochers et al.) are applicable to all the populations of musk thistles occurring in the United States has not been determined. [source]
Hybrids between Carduus acanthoides and C. nutans (C. ×orthocephalus Wallroth) have been documented from Ontario and Wisconsin and probably occur at other sites where the parental taxa co-occur. [source] Biennial (sometimes annual) up to eight feet tall, reproducing by seed only. Taproot large, fleshy , and hollow near soil surface. Stems tall, erect , and spiny , with spiny wings, lower portion branched. Leaves alternate, coarsely toothed , with prominent yellow spines. Flowers are large (as much as 2 in. across) on ends of long, nearly-naked stems, frequently drooping or nodding, purple to lavender. Bloom is in May or June, followed by seed production.
Flowers: Bloom Period: June, July, August, September. • Flower Color: magenta, pink
Size: 12-18" tall.
Aggressive weed of waste ground , pastures, roadsides, fields ; 0-3000 m ; introduced .
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 4,043 meters (0 to 13,264 feet).
Ecology: Invasive: invades roadsides, pastures and open native habitats , hybridizes with Plumeless Thistle. Declared prohibited noxious weeds in Maryland. These weeds must be controlled by anyone owning or managing land within the State.
Duration: Biennial, Perennial
Culture: Space 24-36" apart.
Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full Sun .
Moisture: Drought Tolerance: High
Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11. (map)
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- Haeckel, 1866
- Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Vascular Plants
A. In: Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue
- Brongniart, 1843
- Takhtajan, 1967
- Takhtajan Ex Reveal, 1992
- Lindley, 1833
- Giseke, 1792, nom. cons., nom. alt.
- Subfamily: Carduoideae ()
- Family: Compositae () - Giseke, 1792, nom. cons., nom. alt.
- Order: Asterales () - Lindley, 1833
- Superorder: Campanulanae () - Takhtajan Ex Reveal, 1992
- Subclass: Asteridae () - Takhtajan, 1967
- Class: Part A. In: Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue () - Brongniart, 1843
- Subphylum: Euphyllophytina ()
- Phylum: Tracheophyta () - Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998 - Vascular Plants
- Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae () - Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Kingdom: Plantae () - Haeckel, 1866 - Plants
Status: Accepted Name
Last scrutiny: 17-Nov-09
Members of the genus Carduus
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 11 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:
C. acanthoides (Plumeless Thistle) · C. crispus (Curled Plumless-Thistle) · C. nutans (Chardon Penche) · C. nutans macrocephalus (Musk Thistle) · C. nutans macrolepis (Chardon Penche) · C. nutans var. litoralis (Nodding Thistle) · C. orthocephalus (Plumeless Thistle) · C. pycnocephalus (Compact-Headed Thistle) · C. scariosus (Meadow Thistle) · C. tenuiflorus (Italian Thistle) · C. x orthocephalus (Plumeless Thistle)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 18, 2007:
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- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: Ast-266
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 3027485
- Globally Unique Identifier: urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:188890-1
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- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 35787
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- U.S.D.A. Plant Symbol: CANU4
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- Mean = 168.330 meters (552.264 feet), Standard Deviation = 289.360 based on 11,067 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]