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This gorgeous thistle was a new plant for me when I discovered it in a local farm field a couple of days ago. It’s a Musk thistle (Carduus nutans), also known as Nodding thistle, and it’s precisely the nodding habit of its growth that alerted me to something new.

200722 musk thistle (1)

Its flowers, though a glorious and vibrant pinky purple, droop downwards, nodding on long spineless stems and, in fact, compared to the upright habit of other thistles I see, this one’s growth habit overall is very droopy. It’s a bit of a sloucher, though, as its name suggests, those flowers have a musky smell that bees find particularly attractive, and several butterflies seemed to like it too.

200722 musk thistle (2)

The Plantlife website provides some interesting facts about the Musk thistle: apparently ‘its fleshy stem is edible and said to be delicious after peeling and boiling’ and ‘medicinally, the leaves have been used as a tonic to stimulate liver function, whereas the flowers have been used to reduce fevers and purify the blood.’

200722 musk thistle (3)