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Dune Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri)
Dune Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri), a State Threatened and Federally Threatened plant, is found on open sand dunes adjacent to the Great Lakes. Blooming occurs late June through late July; fruiting occurs late July through late August. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through late August.
Synonyms: Cnicus pitcheri
- Distinguishing characteristics: Long, linear, deeply lobed leaves densely covered in short, white hairs; white to pale pink flowers; only found on sand dunes near the Great Lakes.
- Flower characteristics: Several white to pale pink flower heads; phyllaries 2 to 3 cm long and tipped by weak spines.
- Fruit characteristics: Sunflower-like seed pod 5 to 7.5 mm in length.
- Leaf characteristics: Leaves deeply lobed, each lobe up to 8 cm long and 7mm wide and tipped by a weak spine, long and linear; lower surfaces of densely covered in short, white hairs, upper surfaces may have less dense covering.
- Blooming phenology: late June through late July
- Fruiting phenology: late July through late August
- Optimum time to identify: late June through late August
- Growth form: Forb-erect
- Vegetative reproduction:
- Life cycle: Biennial or Perennial
- Comments: Associated Species: Ammophila breviligulata, Calamovilfa longifolia ssp. magna, Tanacetum huronense, Elymus canadensis, Solidago simplex.
Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin
The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Dune Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.
|Federal Status in Wisconsin||LT|
|Tracked by NHI||Y|
Habitats and landscapes
The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.
General habitat information
- Habitat description: Found on open sand dunes adjacent to the Great Lakes.
- Soils: Sandy soils.
This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Dune Thistle. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).
|Great Lakes Dune||3|
This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Dune Thistle. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.
The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.
These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.
- Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
- Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species
- Avoid any activities which destabilize the dune, including the use of off-road vehicles, removal of native vegetation and pedestrian recreational overuse.
Links to additional Dune Thistle information
Other links related to vascular plants (all exit the DNR website)
- Wisconsin Vascular Plants
- Freckmann Herbarium
- Atlas of Wisconsin Prairie and Savanna Flora - Wisconsin State Herbarium
- USDA - NRCS Plants Database
- USGS Midwestern Wetland Flora - field office guide to plant species
- Cofrin Center for Biodiversity Herbarium
- Intermountain Herbarium Grasses of North America
- Orchids of Wisconsin
Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.