Pitcher’s Thistle

Pitcher’s thistle, credit: Noah Cole

Threatened Provincially, Endangered Nationally

Description

• Slender stem and leaves covered in fine, whitish fuzz; up to one metre tall; greyish-green leaves deeply divided into narrow, spine-tipped segments
• May grow for years before flowering when it produces between two to 125 flowering
heads; made up of many small pinkish or creamy-white flowers
• Seeds have downy white “parachutes” and can be dispersed by the wind

Range

• Globally vulnerable endemic thistle of the Great Lakes
• In Canada, found only in Ontario, restricted to about 30 sites with core range on Manitoulin Island

Threats

• Habitat loss and degradation
• Human disturbance (recreational vehicles)
• Invasive plants

Protection

• Provincially protected under the Endangered Species Act, 2007
• Federally protected under the Species at Risk Act, 2002

Fact

Some 15 percent of the global population of Pitcher’s thistle is located in Ontario.

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