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Nodding thistle
  • Native to Europe and Western Asia

  • Tree grows 10 to 20 meters in height

  • Lives 60 to 250 or so years

Nodding thistle

Norway maple
(Acer platanoides)

Quick Identification

  • Five lobed leaves and wider than they are long

  • Bark is grey with tight groves

  • Bright fall colours

  • Leaves and twigs contain a milky sap

Can form a monoculture in forest systems that outcompete native species such as the sugar maple and create a deep shades that inhibits the growth of other plants.

Is more easily controlled than other invasive trees.  Trees can be removed by cutting and girdling.  It is important to reduce the spread of seeds and limit soil disturbances.

Greenish-yellow flowers grow in clusters and bloom in early spring.

Leaves & Stems
Leaf buds are reddish-brown in colour.  Leaves have 5 to 7 lobes and are between 12 to 17 cm in width and length.  Twigs and leaves contain a milky sap.  The bark on new twigs and shoots in reddish-brown and smooth while mature branches and the trunk are grey with tight groves.

Nodding thistle

The root system is shallow but aggressive.

Reproduction & Dispersal
Produces by seed and root buds.  The seeds are eaten by wildlife.  Was initially introduced as an ornamental species but has spread beyond urban areas.


Seeds are winged samaras.  Two seeds are forms with opposite wings which allow the seed to be carried by the wind.

Preferred Habitat
Enjoys full sun but tolerates shade.  Is relatively tolerant of pollutants which allows it to thrive in urban settings.

Interesting Facts
The wood is used for furniture, flooring, and musical instruments.

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