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The heavily prickly musk thistle is a fairly common roadside plant in the Netherlands, particularly in river regions, in dunes and in the delta region. It is also called nodding thistle, thanks to its hanging flower heads. One flower head can contain hundreds of seeds. You find this plant in areas where human influence is prominent, such as dikes, roads and train tracks. It also grows in the dunes. Grazing livestock avoid this thorny plant, while other delicate plant species find protection between the prickly thistles. Nor do the thistles scare away butterflies and bumblebees in search of nectar. Seeds from musk thistles contain lots of fatty oils, making them hightly desirable among goldfinches and other migrating birds.


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