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Species at Risk

Pitcher's Thistle

Cirsium pitcheri

What is Parks Canada doing to help Pitcher's thistle?

Parks Canada is working hard to improve our understanding of Pitcher's thistle and to educate people about the need to protect the plant and the dune ecosystem in which it thrives. Ongoing research, recovery action and public education are helping ensure the survival of this rare plant.


An example of this kind of work can be seen at Pukaskwa National Park , where staff have been monitoring the Pitcher's thistle since 1981. Each year, every plant is identified and marked to indicate its stage in its life cycle.

Species at Risk - Who Knew?

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) requires that federally endangered species, such as Pitcher's Thistle, be protected through federal or provincial regulations. SARA also requires that the habitat necessary for the survival or recovery of endangered species be protected.

Recovery Action

Following a near washout of a beach containing Pitcher's thistle, a new colony was introduced to the park's Middle Beach in 1991. Parks Canada has joined the Pitcher's thistle recovery team, whose efforts include locating remaining populations, identifying habitat and preparing a plan for the recovery of the species.

Public Education

The park has initiated programs to educate private and public property owners about this unique species and its special habitat. Low fences protect the colonies and signs identify the area as a "fragile dune environment" containing endangered species. All of these precautions, as well as raised boardwalks in the dune areas of the park, help to keep visitors on the established trails and away from the thistles.

Visitors curious to see what a Pitcher's thistle looks like are given the opportunity at the park's visitor centre, where a display shows the plant in a natural setting at three stages of growth.