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Mingan Thistle

GRIPP Mingan Thistle Parks Canada

Species name

Cirsium scariosum (Poir.) Nutt.

Conservation Status in Canada

According to the Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species, Mingan thistle is endangered in the province of Quebec.

Distribution and Habitat

The Mingan thistle is found in two locations within Canada, the Mingan Archipelago National Park a small area located in southern Alberta/British Columbia which spans across into the United States. Outside of Canada, Mingan Thistle is found growing in the following Western US States: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Mingan thistle is found growing in a variety of habitats. In Quebec, 9 sub-populations are found growing in open meadows along 4 islands which are exposed to disturbances from the marine environment.

Why this Species Matters

In Quebec, the Mingan thistle is a culturally important species being named by Brother Marie-Victorin in 1924, a notable Canadian botanist who founded the Montreal botanic Garden in 1931 and created an inventory for all of Quebec’s plants in 1935. In 1992, he was admitted to the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame. Since Mingan thistle’s discovery, the species has been of interest to many scientists, as the closest neighboring population to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve is 3,500 Km. It is believed that the Quebec population has been separated since the last ice age deglaciation, representing a genetically isolated relict population.

Threats to Quebec Population
  • Challenging reproductive biology i.e. low flowering rates
  • Forest encroachment on open meadows
  • Climatic threats such as erosion, drought, sediment accumulation
  • Grazing
What is GRIPP doing?

GRIPP is currently working with Parks Canada staff from the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve in Quebec to develop in vitro technologies for conserving Mingan thistle.

Read a full report on the conservation status of this species.