Cirsium pitcheri

Common Names:
dune thistle, pitcher's thistle, sand dune thistle
(Torr. ex Eat.) Torr. & Gray
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Lindsey Parsons
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
The Holden Arboretum
Chicago Botanical Garden

The conservation of Cirsium pitcheri is fully sponsored.
Lindsey Parsons contributed to this Plant Profile.


This herbaceous plant grows for 5-8 years before flowering. It blooms and sets seed once in its life. It stays open from June until September, and is visited by up to 30 different insect species. When it flowers, it has one stem, and many branches. The entire plant can be up to 3 feet tall. The blossoms are cream or pink colored. The leaves are finely but deeply lobed, and can be up to 1 foot in length. The stems of the plant have fine hairs on them, which is an adaptation to its beach environment, so it can retain water and reflect the sun. It has a long taproot, growing up to 6 feet long.

Prior to flowering, this plant is found as a rosette with a cluster of leaves that are blue-green and covered in dense white wooly hairs. The plant is fairly stout and prickly. The entire plant is blue-green and covered in dense white wooly hairs. Mature leaves are divided deeply into narrow, spine tipped segments. The flower heads are also prickly and spine tipped. The heads are relatively large, and the seeds have feathery bristles. The seeds germinate in June, while the plant flowers and fruits from June until early September. Plant flowers and fruits from late June to early September.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research