Plants and Animals

Cirsium pitcheri Pitcher's thistle

species photo
Susan R. Crispin
species photo
Susan R. Crispin
species photo
Doug Moore

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

US Status: LT - Listed Threatened
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G2G3 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from imperiled to vulnerable
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alcona12013
Alger22016
Allegan32013
Alpena31996
Antrim42007
Arenac21991
Benzie82008
Berrien22018
Charlevoix262018
Cheboygan52013
Chippewa72014
Delta32016
Emmet182013
Grand Traverse11981
Huron12013
Iosco42011
Leelanau162011
Mackinac202016
Manistee52017
Mason42018
Muskegon42013
Oceana62013
Ottawa32015
Presque Isle132013
Schoolcraft112016
Van Buren12013

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.

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

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 Recommendations

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.

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 third week of June to third week of September

References

Survey References

  • 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.
  • 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.