Plants and Animals

Cirsium hillii Hill's thistle

species photo
Phyllis Higman
species photo
Elaine M. Chittendon
species photo
MNFI Staff
species photo
Michael R. Penskar
species photo
Gary Reese
species photo
Dennis A. Albert

Key Characteristics

Short, stout perennial thistle (30-60 cm) of pine barrens, oak savanna, prairie, forest openings, and glade habitats; young plants appearing only as a basal rosette with very shallowly lobed leaves; flower a single large pink head.

Status and Rank

US Status:
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alcona222005
Berrien21932
Cass21932
Cheboygan41973
Chippewa152016
Clare11996
Crawford492018
Grand Traverse52009
Hillsdale12014
Iosco192007
Jackson11896
Kalamazoo11947
Kalkaska112005
Lake212016
Macomb11896
Manistee182011
Mason122007
Menominee21986
Montmorency162008
Muskegon22014
Newaygo32007
Oakland11896
Oceana32009
Ogemaw72014
Oscoda512017
Otsego102017
Presque Isle31961
Roscommon72005
St. Clair11904
Van Buren21939
Wexford42009

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

Found primarily in pine barrens in northern Lower Michigan, but also occurring in other savanna and prairie types, openings within coniferous and oak forests, and on limestone pavement.

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.

Associated Plants

Big and little bluestem, blazing star, rough fescue, pale agoseris, Alleghany plum, harebell, juniper, poverty grass, hair grass, western sunflower, Allegheny plum, prairie dropseed, cat's foot, Canadian milk vetch, sedges, Indian paintbrush, field chickweed, bastard toad flax, prairie smoke, ground juniper, bee-balm, and old field goldenrod.

Management Recommendations

Natural disturbance, particularly fire, is necessary to maintain the openings in pine barrens and other associated habitat required by this species. Plants may persist as vegetative rosettes in the absence of disturbance, and have been observed under relatively mature tree canopies, including pine plantations. However, openings are required to promote flowering, and fire also likely plays a key role in reducing litter and creating habitat for germination and colonization. This species thrives on moderate levels of soil disturbance such as light disking or furrowing, though such activities are detrimental to most other rare plants associated with barrens.

Survey Methods

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

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From first week of June to fourth week of August

References

Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Antonio, T.M. and S. Masi. 2001.The Sunflower Family in the Upper Midwest. A Photographic Guide to the Asteraceae in Illinois, Indianan, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 421pp.
  • Coffin, B. and L. Pfannmuller, eds. 1988. Minnesota's Endangered Flora and Fauna. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. 473pp.
  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2006. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 19: Magnoliophyta: Asteridae (in part): Asteraceae, part 1. Oxford University Press, New York. 579pp.
  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Gray, A. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth ed. Van Nostrand Reinghold, New York. 1632pp.
  • Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the vascular plants of Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 937pp.
  • Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th ed. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 921pp.
  • Voss, E.G. 1996. Michigan Flora. Part III. Dicots (Pyrolaceae-Compositae). Bulletin of the Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. 622pp.