Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Pasture Thistle - Cirsium pumilum   (Nuttall) Sprengel
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Members of Cirsium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
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Author(Nuttall) Sprengel
DistributionPiedmont only, primarily in the northeastern third or half of the province. The gaps shown on the map are not likely to be real. A specimen from Richmond County (Ahles 385 ILL) is acutally C. repandum.

Southern ME to OH, south to SC.
AbundanceUncommon to infrequent in the northeastern Piedmont, south to Lee and Forsyth counties. Rare in the remainder of the province.
HabitatFields, pastures, open woodlands, powerline clearings, and glades and barrens, mostly over mafic substrates. Though not often considered as a "prairie plant", it is often found in sites where rare "prairie plants" are found in NC.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting late May-July.
IdentificationPasture Thistle usually has persistent basal leaves at flowering time, unlike many of our thistles -- including Sandhill Thistle (C. repandum). The undersides of stem leaves are not whitened with dense hairs (contra C. virginianum). It tends to produce only 1-few heads, but is quite a robust and spiny species despite reaching only 1.5-2 feet high.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Fragrant Thistle
State RankS3
Global RankG4G5
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieNantucket Island, MA, 1980s. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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