Bracts completely surround and protect the flower of this musk thistle. As the flower blooms, the bracts will invert themselves revealing the flowering bloom within (as will be seen in next Monday's post).
Musk thistle or nodding thistle (Carduus nutans) belongs to the sunflower family (Asteraceae). This species is a biennial generally requiring two years to complete its life cycle. These flowers are native to Europe and Asia, but are now a common agricultural pest throughout the United States and much of southern Canada. Musk thistle was introduced to North America in 1853. Throughout most of its range musk thistle is considered a noxious weed, but is sometimes cultivated in gardens for its showy flowers.
Captured at Illinois Beach State Park on June 9, 2012.
New photos posted on most Mondays through Thursdays.
All photos are copyrighted and may not be reproduced or distributed without my expressed, written consent.