Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: In North America the genus Cirsium is listed as a Noxious Weed by the States of Arkansas and Iowa. Plants included here are invasive or noxious. ∗ See Comments section below.
Wetland Indicator: In North America Cirsium mohavense is a Facultative Upland (FACU) species; usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands; Arid West and Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast.
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown
Genus Information: In North America there are 91 species for Cirsium. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 481 accepted species names and a further 812 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus. The genus Cirsium was published by Philip Miller in 1754.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and New Mexico each have 19 species of genus, California has 27 species, Nevada has 16 species, Texas has 12 species, Utah has 23 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.
Comments: Mojave Thistle is somewhat salt-tolerant and primarily found in Mojave Desert ecosystems. This species is also found in the southern areas of the Great Basin Desert and other nearby regions of California, Nevada, western Arizona, and southwestern Utah.
∗The genus Cirsium has received adverse notoriety because of the introduction of two thistles native to Europe and now widespread throughout North America. The Canadian Thistle, Cirsium arvense and and the Bull Thistle, Cirsium vulgare are both listed as noxious primarily by agricultural interests.
Most southwestern native thistles, including Mojave Thistle, are non-aggressive; non-invasive and beneficial as pollinators that have evolved to thrive without becoming weedy. Many native thistles are now threatened with some species at risk of extinction.
Thistles of the genus Cirsium are regularly visited by many wildlife species such as small mammals, hummingbirds and nectar-feeding bats. Also the seeds are attractive to small mammals and finches such as American goldfinch.
Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Thistles of the genus Cirsium are important as a group as they are frequently visited by pollinators such as Native bees, bumblebees and a very large numbers of insects and butterflies. "Monarch butterflies visit native thistle flowers more than any other wildflowers in some regions during their migration back to Mexico". They are also heavily used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly) species. In addition to food Cirsium also provides nesting material and structure for Native bees and other insects.
To find out more about Butterflies and Moths of North America visit BAMONA.
For excellent information on invertebrate conservation visit The Xerces Society.
The genus Cirsium is derived from the Greek words kirsion "a kind of thistle" in turn from kirsos, "a swollen vein or welt," as thistles are used as a remedy for such issues. The genus Cirsium was published by Philip Miller in 1754.
The species epithet "mohavense" is a reference to the Mojave Desert, the epicenter of its distribution.