Cirsium perplexans - (Rydb.) Petrak
Rocky Mountain Thistle
Other Common Names: Rocky Mountain thistle
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Cirsium perplexans (Rydb.) Petr. (TSN 36399)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.142607
Element Code: PDAST2E290
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 perplexans
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 20Nov2006
Global Status Last Changed: 20Nov2006
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This is a Colorado endemic known from 43 locations. The species is threatened by biocontrol and other control efforts aimed at non-native thistles.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

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 Colorado (S2S3)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Colorado endemic known from Delta, Mesa, Montrose, Gunnison, Garfield, and Ouray counties in the Colorado and Gunnison River Valleys. Estimated range is 4,981 square kilometers (1,923 square miles), calculated by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in 2008 in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences.

Area of Occupancy: 1-25 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: The total occupied habitat is about 913 acres. Occurrences without specific information on occupied habitat were considered to occupy 0.5 acre.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: There are 43 principal occurrences documented in the Colorado Natural Heritage Program database. Five of the 29 occurrences have not been observed in over 20 years (2013). The USFS Conservation Assessment documents 25 occurrences (Spackman Panjabi and Anderson 2004). Four new occurrences have been documented since the Assessment was published (2006).

Population Size Comments: Total estimated sum of individuals from 15 of the 29 occurrences is 3,872. The remaining occurrences do not report the number of individuals.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some (13-40)
Viability/Integrity Comments: There are 26 occurrences with an A or B rank.

Overall Threat Impact: High - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The most significant threat to the long-term survival of Cirsium perplexans is from the use of biological control to manage populations of non-native thistles, primarily from the Eurasian weevil Rhinocyllus conicus. The weevil has been found attacking at least 22 native thistles, including C. perplexans. Cirsium perplexans may also be threatened by the use of herbicides used to control non-native thistles. It could be mistaken for a non-native thistle by weed managers who may not know of the presence of this native species. (Spackman Panjabi and Anderson 2004, Dodge 2005).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Changes in the distribution and abundance of Cirsium perplexans over time are unknown (Spackman Panjabi and Anderson 2004). However, as this species thrives in disturbed areas such as roadsides and heavily grazed areas it is likely increasing.

Long-term Trend: Unknown

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Colorado endemic known from Delta, Mesa, Montrose, Gunnison, Garfield, and Ouray counties in the Colorado and Gunnison River Valleys. Estimated range is 4,981 square kilometers (1,923 square miles), calculated by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in 2008 in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences.

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.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CO

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CO Delta (08029), Garfield (08045), Gunnison (08051), Mesa (08077), Montrose (08085), Ouray (08091)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
14 Colorado headwaters-Plateau (14010005)+, Upper Gunnison (14020002)+, North Fork Gunnison (14020004)+, Lower Gunnison (14020005)+, Uncompahange (14020006)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A native thistle, endemic to Colorado.
General Description: Taprooted perennial or biennial, 2-10 dm tall, with purplish, striate stems.  Flowers rose or reddish-purple; flower heads about 3 cm high and broad.  Phyllaries spreading to reflexed, with erose tips or spines 1-2 mm long; bracts with distinct glandular back.  Lower leaves oblanceolate, upper leaves lanceolate and clasping, not decurrent; leaves toothed with weak yellow spines (Flora of North America 1993+), Spackman and Anderson 2002, Ackerfield 2012, Weber and Wittmann 2012).
Technical Description: From the Flora of North America (1993+): Biennials, slender. 20100 cm; taprooted. Stems usually 1, erect, thinly arachnoid-tomentose, sparsely pilose distally with short, jointed trichomes; branches few to many, often arising from proximal nodes, ascending. Leaves: blades oblong to elliptic, 1530 × 26 cm, often unlobed and merely spinulose or spiny-dentate, sometimes pinnatifid ca. halfway to midveins, lobes separated by broad sinuses, undivided to coarsely few-dentate, main spines slender, 25(10) mm, abaxial faces ± persistently thinly gray-tomentose, adaxial green, glabrous to thinly tomentose, sometimes sparsely pilose on midveins; basal sometimes present at flowering, sessile or short winged-petiolate; principal cauline sessile, progressively reduced, becoming bractlike distally, mid and distal bases broadly clasping; distal reduced to linear or lanceolate bracts. Heads fewmany, in ± openly branched corymbiform or paniculiform arrays; not closely subtended by clustered leafy bracts. Peduncles (0)320 cm. Involucres hemispheric to subspheric, 1.32.5 × (1)1.52.5 cm, glabrous to loosely floccose. Phyllaries in 58(10) series, strongly imbricate, green with darker green to brown subapical patch, broadly ovate or oblong (outer) to lanceolate (inner), abaxial faces with prominent to obscure glutinous ridge; outer and middle appressed, spines or terminal appendages spreading to reflexed, bodies entire or with expanded, ± scarious, ± pectinately fringed terminal appendages, tips merely mucronate or with weak spines spreading to reflexed, 13 mm; apices of inner often flexuous, flat, scarious, serrulate to expanded and pectinately fringed. Corollas lavender to reddish purple, (16)1922 mm, tubes 69 mm, throats 58 mm, lobes 57 mm, style tips 56 mm. Cypselae dark brown, 45 mm, apical collars stramineous or not differently colored, very narrow; pappi 1517 mm.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Desert, Forest/Woodland, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Found almost exclusively on barren clay soils or "adobe hills" that are derived from shales of the Mancos or Wasatch formations.  Associated plant communities have been described as pinyon-juniper woodlands, and sagebrush, saltbrush, and mixed shrublands.  Often found in disturbed areas (Panjabi and Anderson 2004, Ackerfield 2012, Weber and Wittmann 2012).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any naturally occurring population that is separated by a sufficient distance or barrier from a neighboring population.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1.61 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 3.22 km
Separation Justification: The rationale for this large a separation distance across suitable but apparently unoccupied habitat is that it is likely additional research will find this habitat to be occupied. It can often be assumed that apparently unconnected populations will eventually be found to be more closely connected; these are best regarded as suboccurrences. No information on mobility of pollen and propagules is available on which to base the separation distance for this species.
Date: 27Sep2000
Author: Spackman, S. and D. Anderson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: Size: 200 or more individuals (based on available EOR data). Condition: the occurrence has an excellent likelihood of long-term viability as evidenced by the presence of both rosettes and flowering individuals with successful fruiting, indicating that the reproductive mechanisms are intact. This occurrence should be in a high-quality site with less than 1% cover of exotic plant species and/or no significant anthropogenic disturbance. Landscape Context: the occurrence is surrounded by an area that is unfragmented and includes the ecological processes needed to sustain this species.
Good Viability: Size: 100 to 200 or more individuals (based on available EOR data). Condition: the occurrence should have a good likelihood of long-term viability as evidenced by the presence of both rosettes and flowering individuals with successful fruiting, indicating that the reproductive mechanisms are intact. Anthropogenic disturbance within the occurrence is minimal. If exotic species are present, they comprise less than 10% of the total ground cover. Landscape Context: the surrounding landscape should contain the ecological processes needed to sustain the occurrence but may be fragmented and/or impacted by humans.
Fair Viability: Size: 25 to 100 individuals (based on available EOR data). Condition: The occurrence may be less productive than the above situations, but is still viable, with both rosettes and flowering individuals present and successfully fruiting, indicating that the reproductive mechanisms are intact. The occupied habitat is somewhat degraded (exotic plant species make up between 10-50% of the total ground cover and/or there is a moderate level of anthropogenic disturbance). Landscape Context: there may be significant human disturbance, but the ecological processes needed to sustain the species are still intact.
Poor Viability: Size: Less than 25 individuals (based on available EOR data). Condition: little or no evidence of successful reproduction is observed (poor seedling recruitment or no flowering or fruiting observed). Exotic plant species make up greater than 50% of the total ground cover, and/or there is a significant level of human disturbance. Landscape context: the surrounding area is fragmented with many ecological processes no longer intact. The occurrence has a low probability of long-term persistence due to inbreeding depression, natural stochastic events, and its intrinsic vulnerability to human impacts.
Justification: A Rank: Large populations in high quality sites are presumed to contain a high degree of genetic variability, to have a low susceptibility to the effects of inbreeding depression, and to be relatively resilient.

C Rank: EOs not meeting "C"-rank criteria are likely to have a very high probability of inbreeding depression and extirpation due to natural stochastic processes and/or occur in degraded habitat with low long-term potential for survival.

Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 27Sep2000
Author: Spackman, S. and D. Anderson
Notes: COHP
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 14Jan2013
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Handwerk, Jill (2003), rev. Neuhaus, K., J. Handwerk, and S. Spackman Panjabi (2006); rev. Smith, P. (2013)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 11Jul2013
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Susan Spackman Panjabi

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
Help
  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee, ed. (FNA). 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Oxford Univ. Press, New York, Oxford.

  • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.


  • Ackerfield, J. 2015. Flora of Colorado. Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, TX. 818 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2006a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 19. Magnoliophyta: Asteridae, part 6: Asteraceae, part 1. Oxford University Press, New York. xxiv + 579 pp.

  • Harrington, H.D. 1954. Manual of the plants of Colorado. Sage Press, Chicago. 666 pp.

  • 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.

  • Neely, B., S. Panjabi, E. Lane, P. Lewis, C. Dawson, A. Kratz, B. Kurzel, T. Hogan, J. Handwerk, S. Krishnan, J. Neale, and N. Ripley. 2009. Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Strategy, Developed by the Colorado Rare Plant conservation Initiative. The Nature Conservancy, Boulder, Colorado, 117 pp.

  • Panjabi, S.S. and D.G. Anderson. 2004. Cirsium perplexans (Rydb.) Petrak (Rocky Mountain thistle): a technical conservation assessment. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. Online. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/projects/scp/assessments/cirsiumperplexans.pdf (Accessed 2005)

  • Rydberg, P. A. 1905. Studies on the Rocky Mountain Flora XIV. Bullentin of the Torrey Botanical Club 32(3): 123-138.

  • Spackman, S. and D.G. Anderson. 2002. Colorado Rare Plant Field Guide 2002 Update. Unpublished report prepared by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. 26pp.

  • USDA, NRCS. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

  • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Western Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 532 pp.

  • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 2012a. Colorado Flora, Eastern Slope, a field guide to the vascular plants, fourth edition. University of Colorado Press. Boulder, Colorado. 555 pp.

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