Thistle conservation in Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve

What’s the issue?

A woman examining a Mingan thistle.
Parks Canada staff measures the height of a mature blooming Mingan thistle. Photo: © Patricia Moreau

The Mingan thistle is under threat in the very park that shares its name. Found in small colonies on four islands in Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, the unique Mingan thistle is increasingly subjected to destructive storm surges, encroaching forests, low snow cover and summer drought. In decline since 2011 and numbering fewer than 445 plants, only one of nine known colonies is considered to be viable over the long term. Without help from Mingan Archipelago staff, this species could drastically decrease across eastern North America.

What’s our approach?

  • Restore Mingan thistle habitat by removing tree debris and by removing tree debris, rocks and sand brought in by storms.
  • Identify new, suitable habitats to establish new colonies.
  • Collect and sow seeds in areas that will increase the chance of propagation; ensure the genetic diversity of the population is represented and maintained in seed collections.
  • Use seed collection and offsite propagation to increase the number of plants and seeds available for use in restoration initiatives and research.
  • Continue engaging Canadians, visitors and stakeholders to inform them of the challenges and opportunities for restoring the Mingan thistle.

What’s been accomplished?

  • Uncovered and saved Mingan thistle individuals buried by a December 2016 storm; removed trees that threatened the survival of plants and installed rocks to stabilize sand in some colonies.
  • Inventoried all colonies and conducted viability analyses.
  • Harvested and sowed seeds from all seven flowering individuals in the park (2017).
  • Collaborated with the Montreal Biodome and the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation (University of Guelph) to produce more seeds and seedlings for recovery.