Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for LeConte's Thistle - Cirsium lecontei   Torrey & A. Gray
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Cirsium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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AuthorTorrey & A. Gray
DistributionSouthern outer Coastal Plain, plus two counties in the middle Coastal Plain. Ranges north to Beaufort County.

Coastal Plain, NC to northern FL and southeastern LA.
AbundanceRare to uncommon, mainly restricted to moist/wet Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) stands, especially where frequently burned. The NCNHP database has about 34 records, though only about half are known to be extant populations. This is a Special Concern species.
HabitatWet Longleaf Pine savannas and flatwoods, pitcher-plant seepages.
See also Habitat Account for Wet, Sandy, Fire-maintained Herblands
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-August.
IdentificationThese plants grow 2-3 feet tall, with only 1-3 red-purple heads. The clinching character, when present, is that the leaf bases run down the stem as narrow "wings" (the only other NC thistle that does so is the alien C. vulgare). However, not all plants show this character; and so LeConte's Thistle closely resembles Sandhill Thistle (C. repandum) and Pasture Thistle (C. pumilum). From the first it differs in having fewer heads and longer flower stalks (5-30 cm long vs. 0-2 cm long); and from the second by shorter florets (25-45 mm vs. 45-55 mm) and restriction to the Coastal Plain. It is easily separated from C. nuttallii, very rare in the state, as that species has many branches and thus inflorescences, typically grows far above 3 feet tall (often 6-9 feet tall), the heads are rather small, and the heads are often white to pink (and not all pink).
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS2
Global RankG3
State StatusSC-V
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empFACW link
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B.A. SorrieBrunswick County, 1989, Green Swamp. BrunswickPhoto_natural

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