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Musk thistle

By: Garden Gate staff
All the surfaces of the leaves and stems of musk thistle are covered with sharp prickles.

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Musk thistle Curduus nutans

IDENTIFICATION — All the surfaces of the leaves and stems of musk thistle are covered with sharp prickles. The spiny multi-branched stems reach 2 to 6 ft. tall. From summer to fall, its showy red-purple flowers open, the flower heads drooping as they age.

FAVORITE CONDITIONS — The seeds of this biennial weed sprout in summer, in full sun or shade, in areas not regularly cultivated, such as fence rows, garden perimeters and lawns.

CONTROL — Sharp spines make hand-pulling this weed difficult. So hoe the young plants or spray a broadleaf herbicide before the seeds ripen.

Published: Aug. 11, 2009
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