Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Weed Science, Vol. 28, No. 3 (May, 1980), pp. 347-351.


Four flower-color phenotypes were observed in a population of musk thistle (Carduus tboermeri Weinm.). This plant has been commonly referred to as C. nutans L. The four phenotypes were: purple corolla and purple pollen, pink corolla and white pollen, white corolla and purple pollen, and white corolla and white pollen. In four generations, 177 self-pollinated individuals of these four phenotypes produced 2123 progeny plants that were classified. Results support the hypothesis that three independent gene pairs were involved in deter- mining the four flower phenotypes. The gene pairs have been designated P/p, W/w, and Pi/pi. It was postulated that all three dominant alleles, P, W, and Pi, must be present to produce both purple corollas and purple pollen. The p allele prevents color development in both corollas and pollen; the w allele eliminates color in corollas but does not affect pollen color; and the pi allele dilutes corolla color from purple to pink and eliminates pollen color. Height measurements of progenies of self-pollinated plants indicated that decreased plant height was associated with inbreeding. On the basis of the evidence presented, the musk thistle plants used in these experiments appear to belong to a single species.