Carduus nutans (Nodding or Musk thistle)

Carduus nutans, is one beautiful weed! I always marvel at the complexity and geometry that nature can build into the designs in all of her kingdoms, especially Plantae.

As I gaze at this marvelous plant I realize the genetic adaptations that have transpired over multiple eons to make this plant more survivable. Wicked prickers seem to be impenetrable to anyone foolish enough to want to threaten it in any way. The plant seems well suited for hot sun and drought conditions. As such, it seems to thrive in every part of North America, except the extreme north and over 8000 feet elevation. It can grow up to eight feet tall. In fact, I have encountered plants that seem even taller than that in Gallup.

Contrary to what you might imagine, most parts of this plant are edible. In fact, at one time it was even grown as a food crop. The stalk when prepared correctly is a wonderful addition to salad or eaten as a very sweet celery stalk. The flower seeds can be eaten as well after you separate the fluffy flower parts. I have personally tried this and it wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience, but as most of you know, I am not a big fan of most salads.

Although it is generally hated by farmers , it seems to be a hands down favorite of bees and other pollinators. Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, ©️ Some rights reserved

Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, ©️ Some rights reserved

Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, ©️ Some rights reserved

Photo by Stewart V. Nelson, 2018, ©️ Some rights reserved

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