Cirsium pitcheri
Pitcher's thistle
Image of Cirsium pitcheri

Photo by Susan R. Crispin 

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Key Characteristics

Perennial thistle of open Great Lakes dunes; leaves bluish-green with few spines, densely covered by white-woolly hairs, forming only a basal rosette when young; flower heads numerous and very pale in color.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • US Status: LT
  • State Rank: S3
  • Global Rank: G2G3

Occurrences

County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alcona12013
Alger22006
Allegan32013
Alpena31996
Antrim42007
Arenac21991
Benzie82008
Berrien22014
Charlevoix262015
Cheboygan52013
Chippewa72014
Delta22006
Emmet182013
Grand Traverse11981
Huron12013
Iosco42011
Leelanau162011
Mackinac202014
Manistee62005
Mason32006
Muskegon42013
Oceana62013
Ottawa32015
Presque Isle132013
Schoolcraft152014
Van Buren12013
Distribution map for Cirsium pitcheri

Updated 1/31/2017. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

This species is endemic to Great Lakes shorelines, where it is found on open sand dunes with sparse vegetation.

Natural Community Types

Methodology

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Feel free to send questions and comments to Brad Slaughter at slaugh14@msu.edu.

Associated Plants

Dune willow, balsam poplar, sandbar willow, ground juniper, sand cherry, beach heath, sea rocket, wormwood, beach pea, sand cress, Lake Huron tansy, common milkweed, hairy puccoon, beach grass, dune grass, fescue, wood lily, horizontal juniper, northern white cedar, western moonwort, daisy leaved grape-fern, and prairie moonwort.

Management

This species requires protection of habitat and maintenance of natural dune processes (e.g. shoreline fluctuation, erosion, sand deposition, wind, water level fluctuation, sand movement) that create the necessary microsites. Protect habitat from residential development. Vulnerable to ORV damage and also excessive foot traffic.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/explorer [Accessed Mar 30, 2017]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract

References

Survey References

Technical References