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Old 06-17-2013, 12:15 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago Illinois USA
Default Pitcher's thistle, Cirsium pitcheri

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Illinois Beach State Park

This week's "off the beaten path" wildflower is Pitcher's thistle, Cirsium pitcheri. This is an endangered species that was repatriated to Illinois Beach about 15 years ago, after disappearing from the park in the 1960s. It has re-established itself as part of the local fauna. It grows only on nearshore sand dunes, where open areas of sand host little competition from other plants. It is a "bi...ennial" in that it grows a rosette of leaves at least 1 year before flowering. Because sand dunes are low-nutrient environments, Pitcher's thistle will grow a rosette for 4-7 years before storing enough energy to bloom. Like all other thistles, it is a favorite of butterflies and finches.
(Photo taken at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Monument outside Glen Arbor, MI.)
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"Half Earth Quest" Edward O. Wilson

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