I came upon the Musk Thistle (aka Nodding Thistle), Carduus nutans, while investigating a field across from the lake that I don't often get to. This beautiful plant is considered invasive, primarily for crowding out beneficial forage species. There is lots of contemporary information on eradication but I prefer to present articles of appreciation. For those, I often must turn to earlier works within the ancient stacks of Google Books.
"The thistles are among the handsomest wildflowers of the northern hemisphere, and some of them rise up before us by every way-side. Those who are not botanists can always detect these plants from others whose flowers somewhat resemble them, by the prickly stems and leaves which always belong to the thistles; but some study of plants is requisite to distinguish the various species from each other. The Musk Thistle, however, may at once be known by its large drooping flower, and it has besides a musky odour, which becomes stronger when the dew of evening is on it. The colour of the blossom is a rich reddish purple, and it nods, from a stem two or three feet high, on many a dry or stony field, during the months of July and August.
Thistles are arranged by botanists into several genera; that of Carduus contains four species, one of which, the Welted Thistle (Carduus acanthoides), is among the most common of the whole tribe; while another, the Milk Thistle (Carduus marianus), is as handsome as any one of this beautiful family of plants, but it is rare. It may easily be distinguished by the milky white veins which run through its dark green spiny leaf. The name of the genus is said to be from the Celtic Ard, a point; and our engraving will show that it was not ill bestowed. This thistle, however, has not, except on its cup, points so strong and sharp as those of the true Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium), which certainly well merits the motto which Scotsmen of old have affixed to their national emblem, "Nemo me impune lacessit" (No one touches me with impunity): or, as Baxter interprets it into the plain Scotch, " Ye maun't meddle wi' me.""
Pratt, Anne. Wild Flowers. London , 1853. 115-6. Google Book Search. Web. 20 Jun 2009.