MUSK THISTLE

Carduus nutans

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

Flowers:
month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept

Pappus: pappusZpossible (white, simple)
pappus8aug pappus8sep pappus8sept pappus8oct

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8purple
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZmany
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8winged
winged
stem
stem8spines stem8thorns
spines
smell
smell8musk smell8perfume smell8perfumed smell8fragrant
musk
contact
contactZlowish
 

2nd July 2014, Cwm, Prestatyn, Clwyd. Photo: © RWD
Grows up to 1m high in open grassland on lime.


2nd July 2014, Cwm, Prestatyn, Clwyd. Photo: © RWD
Flower-heads large and in singles on possibly branched stalks near the top of the plant. Stems have spiny wings, as does Welted Thistle.


2nd July 2014, Cwm, Prestatyn, Clwyd. Photo: © RWD
When fully open the flower-heads droop sideways, which is very distinctive of Musk Thistle. The stem has wings, but they are discontinuous. Leaves hairy on the underside.


12th June 2008, Head of Cressbrookdale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Leaves not dis-similar to those of Spear Thistle, but shorter and smaller.


12th June 2008, Head of Cressbrookdale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Flowers not yet fully out. Light-green sharp triangular bracts (actually phyllaries) almost obscure the emerging purple florets.


19th July 2005, near Magpie Mine, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Paradoxically, heads droop melancholically on Musk Thistle rather than on Melancholy Thistle. The bracts are forcibly swept backwards when the flower opens. This one seems not as short nor as solidly built as the others here, and perhaps it is the hybrid between Musk Thistle and Welted Thistle.


19th July 2005, near Magpie Mine, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Stems and bracts are covered in white woolly hairs, but not as dense as they are on Woolly Thistle. This may(?) be the hybrid between Musk Thistle and Welted Thistle.


12th June 2008, Head of Cressbrookdale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Tends to have very prickly and spiny leaves.


12th June 2008, Head of Cressbrookdale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The spiny bracts around the head are a light green in colour, but purple-tipped. They are sharp!


12th June 2008, Head of Cressbrookdale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The pollen is a deep grey-blue. The fine woolly hairs spun like a cobweb going around from bract to bract. Those bracts furthest from the flower-head are swept backwards.


12th June 2008, Head of Cressbrookdale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The stems become a very pale whitish-green near the drooping heads and is covered in fine hairs.


17th Aug 2016, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shrops. Photo: © RWD
Exhuberant inflorescence.


17th Aug 2016, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shrops. Photo: © RWD
The stigmas are indigo near the tips, whilst the anthers best seen on the fringe are purple.


17th Aug 2016, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shrops. Photo: © RWD
The indigo-coloured styles emerge from a tube. They are tipped by azure-coloured fuzzy stigmas.


17th Aug 2016, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shrops. Photo: © RWD
The seed-head is dense with white hairs, comprised of hundreds of pappii.


17th Aug 2016, Betchcott Hills, Church Stretton, Shrops. Photo: © RWD
The pappus is simple, the seed fawn-coloured.


Hybridizes with : Welted Thistle. (Carduus crispus) to produce Carduus × strangii

Not to be confused with: Musk (a yellow Monkeyflower) nor with Melancholy Thistle, which does not droop its head as does Musk Thistle.

As its common name suggests, the flowers are musky and very fragrant. The seeds are borne on simple white hairs. It is a plant frequently found on rough grassland, waste ground, field margins, especially on chalky or sandy soils. Avoids mountainous areas, present mainly in the east of England, or South of Leeds, but avoiding much of Kent and East Sussex.


  Carduus nutans  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Asteraceae  

Distribution
family8Daisy family8Dandelion  family8Asteraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Carduus
Carduus
(Thistles)

MUSK THISTLE

Carduus nutans

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]  

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