Cirsium palustre - (L.) Scop.
Marsh Thistle
Other Common Names: marsh thistle
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Cirsium palustre (L.) Scop. (TSN 36394)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.133705
Element Code: PDAST2E250
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Aster Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Asterales Asteraceae Cirsium
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Cirsium palustre
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 21Jun2016
Global Status Last Changed: 21Jun2016
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Cirsium palustre is a noxious weed, native to Europe, that invasively spreads through wetland communities, forming impenetrable spiny stands as it displaces native species. The range of this pernicious weed in North America is rapidly expanding. It has the potential to spread into boreal forest areas across the continent; in Europe it grows nearly to the Arctic Circle. The rapid spread of C. palustre in Michigan (E. G. Voss 1972?1996, vol. 3) is indicative of its invasiveness. Spontaneous hybrids between C. palustre and C. arvense have been reported from England and other European countries (W. A. Sledge 1975) and can be expected wherever these species grow together in North America (FNA (vol. 20, 2006).
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (13Sep2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New York (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA)
Canada British Columbia (SNA), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Quebec (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
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NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States MA, MIexotic, NHexotic, NYexotic, WIexotic
Canada BCexotic, NFexotic, NSexotic, ONexotic, QCexotic

Range Map
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Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Cirsium palustre is well-established in northern Michigan and northern Wisconsin and established in a more scattered manner in New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, and Maine. It invades a wide variety of wetland and moist upland habitats, including wet meadows/marshes, shrub wetlands, swamps, floodplain forests, bogs/fens, coastal grasslands, forest edge/old fields, roadsides/ditches, mid- and late-successional forests, and lakeshores/beaches. It is capable of invading mature, undisturbed vegetation and forming tall, dense colonies. These abilities combined with the presence of rare species in many invaded habitats constitute the primary threat posed by this species. It is increasing in abundance in the Great Lakes region and appears to be of greater concern to managers there than to those in New England. It prefers moist ground and climates with long, cold winters, so its potential U.S. range may not be much larger than its current range. Management is complicated by the species' strong resprouting abilities, but is usually successful after a few years of persistence.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Medium/Low
I-Rank Review Date: 29Dec2005
Evaluator: Gravuer, K.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Native to Europe and Siberia, including Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russian Federation (European part, Eastern Siberia, Western Siberia), Ukraine, Albania, Italy, Romania, Yugoslavia, France, Portugal, and Spain (GRIN 2001).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: This species is a non-native that is established outside of cultivation (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Invades a number of wetland habitats, including wet meadows/marshes, shrub wetlands, swamps, floodplain forests, and bogs/fens. Also invades moist upland areas, including coastal grasslands, forest edge/old fields, roadsides/ditches, and mid- and late-successional forests. Invades lakeshores and beaches as well (Mehrhoff et al. 2003, Wisconsin State Herbarium 2005).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Insignificant
Comments: Apparently present in New England since at least 1902 and in the Great Lakes region since at least 1934 (Voss 1996, Mehrhoff et al. 2003). Nonetheless, no reports of impacts on ecosystem processes or system-wide parameters were found. Therefore, assume impacts insignificant.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Low significance
Comments: Plants can grow greater than 2m tall (Nordin 2002), which may allow them to overtop native species when they invade herbaceous habitats such as wet meadows. They also tend to form dense ungainly colonies (Voss 1996), which may result in increased vegetation density.

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Low significance
Comments: Forms tall, dense colonies which can displace native species (Voss 1996, WFP 2004, GLIFWC 2005). It has even been noted to compete with tree seedlings (WFP 2004). Because the plants are extremely spiny, they are unpalatable to deer and other wildlife (GLIFWC 2005), which may impact wildlife use of habitats.

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Competes directly with and probably displaces the native swamp thistle, Cirsium muticum (Voss 1996, GLIFWC 2005). In British Columbia, it has been implicated in the degradation of sedge (Carex spp.) meadows that are important habitat for grizzly bears (Polster 2002); however, this is not a major concern in the invaded U.S. areas.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Moderate significance
Comments: Apparently threatens a number of rare wetland species, as Voss (1996) notes that its large spiny rosettes and densely prickly stems appear out of place next to Orchis rotundifolia and other rarities. Several communities it invades, such as bogs and fens, are also of conservation significance, and its ability to invade undisturbed vegetation suggests that it may pose a threat to high-quality examples of these.

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Low significance
Comments: Well-established on the upper peninsula of Michigan; also fairly common in the northern lower peninsula and in northern Wisconsin (Voss 1996). Established in a more scattered manner in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York (Kartesz 1999). Recently discovered in Maine (Mehrhoff et al. 2003).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Moderate significance
Comments: Professionals in the Great Lakes area (Michigan and Wisconsin) consider the species problematic (e.g. Voss 1996, GLIFWC 2005, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2005). Although it is tracked by the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England, it does not appear to be as problematic in the northeast. For example, Mehrhoff et al. (2003) state invasive in upper Midwest, known from New Hampshire.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Low significance
Comments: Approximately 5-10 ecoregions are invaded, based on visual comparison of the generalized range and ecoregions map (The Nature Conservancy 2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High significance
Comments: Invades a number of wetland habitats, including wet meadows/marshes, shrub wetlands, swamps, floodplain forests, and bogs/fens. Also invades moist upland areas, including coastal grasslands, forest edge/old fields, roadsides/ditches, and mid- and late-successional forests. Invades lakeshores and beaches as well (Mehrhoff et al. 2003, Wisconsin State Herbarium 2005). Often seems to first establish in disturbed habitats (e.g. roadsides), then move out from these sites into less disturbed natural areas (Voss 1996, GLIFWC 2005). Requires moist soil but, while acidic soils are apparently preferred, it can grow in a range of moist soils, including coarse gravel (Nordin 2002, WFP 2004, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2005). While sunny or lightly shaded areas seem to be preferred, it is sufficiently shade-tolerant to invade nearly closed-canopy forest (GLIFWC 2005).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Voss (1996) believes it to be spreading south in Michigan. Potentially spreading north in New England, as it was recently discovered in Maine (Mehrhoff et al. 2003); suspected transport by logging equipment (Nordin 2002) may facilitate spread in this direction. Also noted to be spreading aggressively in British Columbia (GLIFWC 2005), suggesting the potential for establishment in the Pacific northwest states.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: This species prefers moist to wet ground and is adapted to climates with long, cold winters (GLIFWC 2005). Therefore, the climate in much of the U.S. may be too warm and/or dry for the species to succeed. Nevertheless, potential spread into at least Minnesota, Vermont, and additional areas of Maine seems highly likely.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Wind is the primary mechanism of dispersal (Mehrhoff et al. 2003, GLIFWC 2005). In British Columbia, there is some evidence that logging equipment has transported seeds to new areas (Nordin 2002); this could potentially occur in areas of the U.S. where active logging is occurring. This species may also be transported by agricultural machinery (Nordin 2002) and has been noted as a potential seed contaminant (GRIN 2001).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Moderate significance
Comments: Local abundance and range are increasing in Michigan and Wisconsin (Voss 1996, GLIFWC 2005). One source noted that it has become locally abundant in the northeastern US (GLIFWC 2005). Apparently spreading rapidly in British Columbia (Nordin 2002, Darbyshire 2003) and potentially spreading at a slower rate in eastern Canada (Nordin 2002), both of which could result in new U.S. infestations.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:High/Moderate significance
Comments: A number of sources described this species as capable of invading undisturbed, minimally managed, or late successional habitats (Voss 1996, Mehrhoff et al. 2003, GLIFWC 2005). It often seems to first establish in disturbed habitats (e.g. roadsides), then move out from these sites into less disturbed natural areas (Voss 1996, GLIFWC 2005). This may occur for a number of reasons, including a greater likelihood of wind dispersal to areas without thick vegetation (Nordin 2002), facilitation of dispersal by human implements such as logging equipment, agricultural machinery, and vehicles (Nordin 2002), and/or greater ease of establishment in disturbed sites.

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: Also established in at least Canada and New Zealand (Kartesz 1999, Randall 2002). Invaded habitats in these countries include meadows, marshes, bogs, ditches, roadsides, riverbeds, pasture, swampy land, forest margins, coastal gravels, and waste land (Webb et al. 1988, Darbyshire 2003). However, the range of habitats already invaded in the U.S. is sufficiently broad that there do not appear to be habitats invaded elsewhere that are not already occupied in the U.S.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Low significance
Comments: Reproduces entirely be seed, producing up to 2000 seeds per plant in the second year of growth (Nordin 2002, GLIFWC 2005). Some resprouting occurs after cutting or mowing (GLIFWC 2005).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Medium/Low

17. General Management Difficulty:Medium/Low significance
Comments: This species may be somewhat more difficult to eradicate than other roadside weeds, as Voss (1996) noted that the typical program of roadside spraying and mowing employed in Michigan had failed to eradicate populations. For smaller infestations, manual control methods can be successful. Hand-pulling or digging out the rosettes is likely to be successful if sufficient time and labor are available (Nordin 2002, GLIFWC 2005, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 2005). Stems can also be cut near the ground before flowering occurs, but this must be done at least twice per season because of resprouting (GLIFWC 2005). For larger infestations, herbicides may be necessary. An herbicide specific for broad-leaved species may minimize collateral damage in grass-dominated ecosystems (Nordin 2002). If glyphosate is required, collateral damage can be minimized by cutting stems near ground level, then spraying a small amount of solution into the cut hollow stems (GLIFWC 2005). For heavily infested areas, biological control may offer the best chance for success. Unfortunately, no effective control agents for this species have yet been found (Nordin 2002). Regardless of the control program selected, yearly monitoring and treatment are probably necessary for several years or more (GLIFWC 2005).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance
Comments: The seedbank longevity is typically 3-12 months, but some seeds may survive for 2-3 years (Peat and Fitter 2005). Also, plants have a strong tendency to resprout when cut, so manual control methods may need to be repeated for several years before successful control is achieved (GLIFWC 2005).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Medium/Low significance
Comments: The necessity of cutting several times per season because of resprouting may result in more trampling damage to native species than in cases where one cut per season is sufficient. If use of glyphosate is necessary, this could also result in some damage to natives.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Moderate significance
Comments: In Michigan, the species has spread to a substantial number of shores and remoter wetlands (Voss 1996), which could be difficult to access.
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Darbyshire, S. J. 2003. Inventory of Canadian agricultural weeds. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Branch, Ottawa, Ontario. Online. Available: http://res2.agr.gc.ca/ecorc/weeds_herbes/pdf/inv_e.pdf

  • Douglas, G.W., G.D. Straley, and D. Meidinger, eds. 1998b. Illustrated Flora of British Columbia, Vol. 1, Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons (Aceraceae through Asteraceae). B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Wildl. Branch, and B.C. Minist. For. Res. Program. 436pp.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC). 2005. Exotic plant information center: Species accounts. Online. Available: http://www.glifwc.org/invasives/ (Accessed 2006).

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Mehrhoff, L.J., J.A. Silander, Jr., S.A. Leicht and E. Mosher. 2003. IPANE: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Online. Available: http://invasives.eeb.uconn.edu/ipane/.

  • Mills, E.L., J.H. Leach, J.T. Carlton, and C.L. Secor. 1993. Exotic species in the Great Lakes - A history of biotic crises and anthropogenic introductions. Journal of Great Lakes Research 19(1): 1-54.

  • Nordin, L. 2002. Invasive species to watch for: Cirsium palustre. Menziesia (Newsletter for the Native Plant Society of British Columbia) 7(4): 6-7.

  • Peat, H., and A. Fitter. 2005. The Ecological Flora of the British Isles at the University of York. Available: http://www.york.ac.uk/res/ecoflora/cfm/ecofl/index.cfm (Accessed 2005).

  • Plants for a Future. 2001, February 2002 last update. Plants for a future database. Available: http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/D_search.html (Accessed 2005).

  • Polster, D. 2002. Invasive biodiversity. Archives of Aliens-I listserve. Online. Available: http://indaba.iucn.org/archives/aliens-l/2002-02/00001940.htm (Accessed 2005)

  • Randall, R.P. 2002. A global compendium of weeds. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne. 905 pp.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • USDA NRCS. 2005. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center (http://npdc.usda.gov/npdc/index.html), Baton Rouge, LA.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2001. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.URL: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/index.pl. (Accessed 2005)

  • Voss, E. G., and A. A. Reznicek. 2012. Field Manual of Michigan Flora. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 990 pp.

  • Voss, E.G. 1996. Michigan Flora. Part III. Dicots (Pyrolaceae-Compositae). Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletin 61 and Univ. Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 622 pp.

  • Western Forest Products (WFP). 2004. Proposed invasive plants strategies and rationale for Zeballos Forest Stewardship Plan. Online. Available: http://www.domans.com/fstew/info%20Zeballos%20FSP%20-%20Invasive%20plants%20rationale.pdf (Accessed 2005).

  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 2005, 1 September last update. Invasive species: Plants. Available: http://dnr.wi.gov/invasives/plants.htm. (Accessed 2005).

  • Wisconsin State Herbarium. 2005. Wisconsin state herbarium vascular plant species database. Available: http://www.botany.wisc.edu/wisflora/. (Accessed 2005).

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