Nodding Thistle

What is nodding thistle?

(Carduus nutans)

Nodding thistle flowering plantGeneric Weed Distribution Map
  • Nodding thistle is a serious pasture weed.
  • Nodding thistle is a declared weed under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of nodding thistle are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify nodding thistle

  • Nodding thistles are normally biennial plants (living for two years). The thistle grows into a rosette (a whorl of leaves close to the ground) in its first year. In its second year, the rosette produces one or more spiny stems up to 1.5 m in height and often branched towards the top.
  • The flowers are red-purple in colour and around 50 mm across. As the flower head develops the stem below the head bends, resulting in the typical 'nodding' appearance of this thistle.
  • In some areas in Tasmania, nodding thistles can grow through from the rosette stage to flowering in the one season, thus behaving as an annual.
  • For help in identifying thistles in Tasmania, see Identifying Thistles in Tasmania and search the Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora database for nodding thistle illustrations. If you are still in doubt about the thistle you are dealing with, contact your Regional Weed Management Officer on 1300 368 550 for help.

Nodding thistle in Tasmania

  • Nodding thistle occurs in small patches in most parts of Tasmania, mainly in the north and north east of the state and through the Midlands (see map).
  • Nodding thistle prefers open situations on richer soils receiving good rainfall. Nodding thistles are an aggressive competitor with pasture. Rosette diameters exceeding one metre are common so losses in productivity through competition with pasture grass can occur even at low weed densities. Plants can grow up to two metres tall and dense stands of nodding thistle can also reduce the accessibility of pasture to stock.

What is the legal status of nodding thistle in your area?

Detailed management and control guidelines for nodding thistle can be found in the Nodding Thistle Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Nodding Thistle Control.

See also
Nodding Thistle Control Guide
Herbicides for Nodding Thistle Control
Statutory Management Plan for Nodding Thistle
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie
APVMA


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