Greenhouse experiments were conducted to determine the effects of sand burial on survival and growth of seedlings of Cirsium pitcheri. In 1992-1993, seedlings were buried to depths of 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100% of their height while in 1993-1994, the seedlings were buried to depths of 0, 4 cm (single burial), 4 cm (repeated burial of 1 cm every 8 days), 8 cm (single burial) and 8 cm (repeated burial of 2 cm every 8 days). Several physiological traits, net photosynthetic rate, chlorophyll a:b ratio, leaf area, number and length of leaves, number of internodes, amount of tillering, and biomass, were measured. The results showed that all seedlings died in the complete (100%) burial, 20% died in the 75% burial and none died in the 0, 25 and 50% burial treatments. Burial of seedlings to a depth of 25% stimulated their growth but 75% burial significantly decreased the total dry weight. Repeated burial treatments exhibited significantly greater stimulation of growth than single burial. Surviving seedlings grew through the sand deposit by elongating the stem and leaf petioles, increasing the number of nodes and the length of internodes. This elongation occurred at the expense of development of the root system indicating that available energy was re-allocated to above-ground parts.