Background: Native to southern Europe and western Asia, musk thistle thrives in pastures and range lands, in waste areas, stream banks, and roadsides.
Other common names: Nodding thistle
Description: Musk thistle is a biennial or winter annual. Four to six foot tall plants are common. Deeply lobed leaves are distinguished by a dark green blade with a prominent light green midrib. Flowers may be violet, purple, or rose colored. Flowers are typically "nodding" or bent over. Ends of stems supporting flowers are often nearly leafless. Bloom is in June and July.
Control: Several biocontrol agents are available and offer good control. Herbicides can offer good to excellent control when applied between rosette and pre-bud stages. Mechanical means can be used for control by chopping the plant off at the gournd. Contact your local state or county weed specialist for specific updated information.