Plumeless Thistle

Carduus acanthoides

Report a Sighting


State designated noxious weed; Height to 4 ft.; rosette first year. Purple clustered or solitary compound flowers; June to August. Stem is spiny and winged to the flower, unlike musk thistle which has a spineless stem area. Leaves are elliptical, pinnatifid, and spiny. Almost square fruit with hairs forming a ring at the tip.


Pastures, rangeland, non-crop areas, and roadsides.

Location in Nebraska

Fairly widespread, particularly in Northeast Nebraska.

Pathway of Introduction and Spread

Originally from Eurasia, it is a food source for butterflies and songbirds (assists in some dispersal), spreads primarily by wind-driven seed distribution.


Thousands of dollars lost in Nebraska agricultural production annually. Competes with native vegetation.

Photo Credits: 

“Weeds of the Great Plains” – Nebraska Department of Agriculture