CPC Plant Profile: Sacramento Mountains Thistle
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Plant Profile

Sacramento Mountains Thistle (Cirsium vinaceum)

This perennial thistle has a basal rosette of spiny-edged leaves from which a tall (1 to 2 meters) inflorescense arises. Photo Credit: Kathy Rice
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Threatened
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • State: NM
  • Nature Serve ID: 130056
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

Cirsium vinaceum is a perennial thistle, 1-2 m tall, with a scapose rosette of spathulate, sessile, spiny-edged leaves (30-40 cm long) from which tall, branched inflorescences arise. The purple flowers are clustered in heads borne on nodding pedicels at ends of branches. The heads are relatively small for a thistle (to 3 cm in diameter). Flowering occurs intermittently from July to September. Seeds are achenes to ca 3 mm long, brownish-black, and many, many black beetles of about the same size can be found among the achenes in a head, presumably consuming the fruits.

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Updates
  • 09/07/2020
  • Seed Collection

Desert Botanical Garden has collected seeds from four of the populations on the Lincoln National Forest in 1996, resulting in a total of approximately 6000 seeds. Seeds were immediately germinated after cleaning, yielding percentages ranging from 10-30%. Tests will be repeated during 2001 to determine if a significant percentage emerges from dormancy during the storage time. Plants were short-lived at the Garden and did not flower in cultivation.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to the Sacramento Mountains of south-central New Mexico, where it is confined to springs and streams. The plants were historically known to occur in wet areas throughout the mountain range, but are now mostly restricted places too steep for livestock. The species is threatened by destruction of its habitat by livestock and water development, competition with exotic species, road construction, logging, suppression of natural disturbance regimes (fire) and recreational activities. Water loss by both anthropogenic and natural causes is the reason for the extirpation of some populations since 1995.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Cattle do not appear to graze plants preferentially, but DBG staff did see evidence of animal predation on one or two plants, but the primary concern is trampling on level sites. Few sites are level. The most pressing, imminent threat to these plants is

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

The twenty known populations contain a total of approximately 10,000 plants. (New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council 1999)

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Desert Botanical Garden has collected seeds from four of the populations on the Lincoln National Forest in 1996, resulting in a total of approximately 6000 seeds. Seeds were immediately germinated after cleaning, yielding percentages ranging from 10-30%. Tests will be repeated during 2001 to determine if a significant percentage emerges from dormancy during the storage time. Plants were short-lived at the Garden and did not flower in cultivation.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Management is administered by the US Forest Service. Grazing is permitted on Cirsium habitat.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Further work needs to be done to ascertain if the seed-eating beetles are having a significant impact on reproduction of Cirsium vinaceum. More work should be done towards investigation of the direct impact of grazing on Cirsium habitat. It may be that grazing actually benefits this species of Cirsium as much as it does the more xeric species of thistle, an 'increaser'. The habitat itself is exceptionally vulnerable to the effects of grazing of cattle, deer and elk; numbers of these animals should be limited or restricted from this area.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Try to find a more suitable place for C. vinaceum plants grown in a greenhouse at Desert Botanical Garden to mature.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Cirsium vinaceum
Authority Woot. & Standl.
Family Asteraceae
CPC Number 966
ITIS 36426
USDA CIVI4
Common Names Sacramento Mountains thistle
Associated Scientific Names Cirsium vinaceum
Distribution C. vinaceum is endemic to the Sacramento Mountains in Otero County, New Mexico. (New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council 1999)
State Rank
State State Rank
New Mexico S1
Habitat

The plants are solely restricted to moist seeps on a travertine substrate. These intermittent seeps occur at approximately 8,000 ft next to meadows between Douglas fir forests. The Cirsium plants are found growing directly in the cracks in travertine rock, with the roots saturated constantly. (New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council 1999)Associated plants include Robinia neomexicana, Quercus gambellii, and Pseudotsuga taxifolia.

Ecological Relationships

Unknown.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Bees Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Butterflies & Moths
Butterflies Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Birds
Hummingbirds Hummingbirds Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Flies
Flies Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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