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Musk thistle (Carduus nutans L.) is an introduced invasive broadleaf weed native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. In these areas it is a minor weed because natural enemies keep its population low. When the plant was introduced into North America, its natural enemies were left behind. Without these natural checks, the thistle is able to thrive and compete with native vegetation.
Musk thistles aggressively invade all lands in Nebraska. Typical cropland weed control methods are very effective against them; however, land with permanent cover (pasture, range, roadway ditches and wasteland) that is not tilled or treated with a herbicide can develop a serious infestation.