General: Thistle with large purple flowers that nod.
Height: Grows up to 2.4m tall.
Flowers: One flower grows on the top of the stem and nods. It is reddish-purple in colour and between 2.5-5cm in diameter.
Leaves/Stems: Stems are not spiny. There can be one stem or branched stems from one base. Leaves grow from the stem in an alternate pattern. The leaves are deeply lobed with spines on the edges. Edges of the leaves can appear white. They are 40cm long and 15cm wide. The way that the leaves attached to the stems, they have a winged appearance.
Root: Fleshy taproot.
Musk Thistle, Nodding plumeless thistle.
Edible Thistle and other native thistles.
Differences: Edible thistles have clusters of flowers but may be single. The leaves are generally shorter, only 10-16cm. Flowers also nod so this can cause people to think this native plant is the invasive nodding thistle.
Where did it come from? Originally from Eurasia and North Africa.
Where does it grow here? Nodding thistle prefers disturbed environments and well-drained soils. It can tolerate low rainfall environments. It is suspected that the Nodding Thistle sites in our region are actually native edible thistle.
Reproduction: By seed only.
When does it grow, flower & seed? Sprouts/bolts April-May. Flowers June-August. Seeds September-October. Seeds can germinate in the fall and go through the winter and bolt in April-May.
Spreads By: Wind, water, wildlife and livestock can spread this thistle.
Plant Type: Biennial.
E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia.
Southern Interior Weed Management Committee. 2016. Invasive Plants of the Southern Interior BC. 86pgs.