Species At Risk

American Columbo

(Frasera caroliniensis)


American Columbo
American Columbo occurrences map


American Columbo is a perennial herb of the Gentian family. Each year, more leaves are added to the basal rosette (a circular arrangement of leaves radiating from the stem) of the plant with older leaves extending as long as 40 centimetres. It takes several years before a single two- to three-metre tall flowering stalk is produced.


American Columbo is widely distributed in eastern North America, ranging from southern Ontario west to Illinois and south to eastern Oklahoma, northern Mississippi,and western South Carolina. In Canada, American Columbo is only found in the Carolinian forest region of southern Ontario.

There have been 22 populations recorded in Ontario. Based on field surveys in 2004 and 2005, 13 populations are currently believed to exist.


American Columbo grows primarily in open deciduous forests, and to a lesser extent along open forest edges and dense shrub thickets in Ontario. It is most commonly found in dry upland woods, but in parts of its range it has been found in grasslands, moist woods and swampy habitats.


Habitat loss and encroachment from invasive plants such as Garlic Mustard, Common Buckthorn, Dame’s Rocket, Japanese Barberry, Multiflora Rose, Pale Swallowwort, White Sweet Clover, and Tatarian Honeysuckle are the greatest threats facing American Columbo in southern Ontario. At least three of the current populations are considered at risk from development.


The American Columbo receives species and habitat protection under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help the American Columbo

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as American Columbo. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. If you find American Columbo on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Invasive species seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To learn what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: ontario.ca/invasivespecies ; www.invadingspecies.com ; www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca ; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca .
  • Pollinators, such as bees, are in steep decline across the globe and they play a key role in the survival of many of Ontario’s rare plants. For information on how you can help scientists monitor pollinator populations in Ontario visit: www.seeds.ca/proj/poll.
  • The Carolinian forests of southern Ontario support an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife, including many species at risk. Carolinian Canada is working to help recover species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: www.carolinian.org/SpeciesHabitats.htm.

Did you know?

American Columbo may live for many years but it flowers only once and then dies.

Did you know?

Two new populations of American Columbo were discovered in Ontario during 2005.

Did you know?

American Columbo was used for a wide range of medicinal purposes by the Cherokee Nation, including as a tonic, antidiarrheal, antiemetic and a disinfectant.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.