E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Carduus nutans L.
Musk Thistle (Common Harebell; nodding plumeless thistle; nodding thistle)
Asteraceae (Aster family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #9962)

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Distribution of Carduus nutans
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Carduus nutans ssp. leiophyllus

Species Information

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Biennial herb; stems glabrous, not spiny, 0.3-2.4 m tall.
Basal leaves lacking; stem leaves lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate in outline, deeply lobed or pinnately cut, up to 40 cm long and 15 cm wide, nearly glabrous or glabrous, spiny-margined.
Heads discoid, 2-8 cm wide, solitary and nodding at the ends of branches; involucres hemispheric; involucral bracts with prominent midribs, the inner lanceolate, often twisted, tips unarmed, the middle and outer egg-shaped 2-8 mm wide, spreading or reflexed, glabrous, tipped with a 3-4 mm spine; disk flowers reddish-purple.
Achenes glabrous, egg-shaped, light brown with darker longitudinal lines and a narrow, lighter rim at the tip; pappus whitish, minutely finely-barbed bristles.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry roadsides and waste places in the montane zone; rare in WC BC (Bulkley River valley), frequent in SC BC; introduced from Eurasia and N Africa.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References