||Biennial or sometimes
a Winter annual
||Fall or early Spring
||7-60 days after flowering
known as nodding thistle, this plant comes from southern Europe and Asia.
It now occupies a number of temperate zone areas in the northern and southern
hemispheres of the world. Imported from Europe, the earliest record of
this plant being found in America was in Pennsylvania, 1852.
A musk thistle
plant relies on seed development for reproduction, and can produce over
100,000 seeds annually (average is 10-11 thousand). One interesting feature
of this plant is its ability to self-pollinate. This allows single plants
to reproduce and form populations without the need for cross-pollination.
Ninety percent of this plant's life is spent as a rosette.
After sending up flowering stalks, musk thistle can produce seeds in 45-55
days. When shed, these seeds are dispersed by wind, water, wildlife, livestock,
and humans. Seeds can remain dormant in the soil for over 10 years, but
usually about a third of them germinate and grow into seedlings.
plant can reduce the number of desirable plant species in an area 50 to
100 percent larger than the area occupied by thistles themselves. This
reduces available forage and habitat for domestic animals and wildlife.
Its dense growth form and spiny nature inhibits the use of an area by
people and animals.
a source of food for some animals. It has been used for food
moves into disturbed sunny areas and establishes well on bare soil. It
can grow under a wide range of conditions (arid to moist), and can be
found in saline or acidic soils up to an elevation of 8,000 feet. Musk
thistle is common in areas of snow accumulation (along fences, ditches,
and in brush patches) and invades degraded pasture, forestlands, rangelands,
ditch banks, waste areas, and stream banks.
must be maintained for 10 years to prevent reestablishment by dormant
control are the most effective tools to combat this plant (example
herbicides: Curtail, Tordon 22K, Escort, Telar [look
at herbicide label: free search]).
• Plowing is not recommended for control because it cuts and scatters
the roots, enabling them to resprout.