Species At Risk

Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO) List

Note: updated January 13, 2012.

This list is a summary of Species at Risk in Ontario.

For the complete Species at Risk in Ontario List regulation (O. Reg. 230/08) please consult e-Laws.

Species at risk in Ontario


Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander
Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus ochrophaeus)
When seized by a predator, the Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander has the ability to self-amputate its tail which continues to twitch, acting as an excellent diversion while the salamander escapes. A new tail soon replaces the old one.
Blanchard's Cricket Frog (Northern Cricket Frog)
This species is an excellent swimmer and is capable of leaping up to almost two metres in a single jump to escape predators.
Eastern Tiger Salamander
Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)
Fowler's Toad
Fowler's Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)
Fowler’s Toads are nocturnal and are mostly active at night, but can occasionally be seen during rainy, overcast days.
Jefferson Salamander
Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum)
Unlike most small animals, Jefferson salamanders can live a very long time – up to 30 years.
Northern Dusky Salamander
Northern Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus fuscus)
Northern Dusky Salamanders were once thought to be absent from Ontario, despite many historical reports, but were recently rediscovered in 1989.
Small-mouthed Salamander
Small-mouthed Salamander (Ambystoma texanum)
Salamanders can take in oxygen through their highly permeable skin. Their skin can also easily absorb pollutants and other toxins, which can cause serious harm or death.
Spring Salamander
Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)


Acadian Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens)
The Acadian Flycatcher only spends about four months of the year in Canada. The rest of the time, it is migrating or wintering in the tropical forests of Central America and northern South America.
American White Pelican
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
These birds can cooperate in small groups to “herd” fish into shallow areas where they can be easily caught.
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
special concern
The raspy scream of the bald eagle often heard on movies and TV is actually from a red-tailed hawk. This bird actually gives a sort of watery, gurgling trill that doesn’t sound like it suits the bird.
Barn Owl
Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
These birds hunt in the dark and have keen hearing – so keen they can capture prey even in total darkness.
Black Tern
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
special concern
The Black Tern is very social. It breeds in loose colonies and usually forages, roosts and migrates in flocks of a few to more than 100 birds, occasionally up to tens of thousands.
Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)
These birds migrate from Ontario to Argentina - one of the longest migrations of any North American songbird.
Canada Warbler
Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis)
special concern
This warbler is one of the last migratory songbird species to return to Canada in the spring and one of the first to leave at the end of summer.
Cerulean Warbler
Cerulean Warbler (Cardellina canadensis)
Since this warbler is a bird of the tree tops, it is often best identified from below. Birdwatchers will recognize adult males by the thin dark band that crosses the upper part of the predominantly white breast.
Chimney Swift
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)
These birds breed and roost in chimneys as well as other manmade structures, including air vents, old open wells, outhouses, abandoned cisterns and lighthouses.
Common Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
special concern
These birds have a specialized reflective structure in their eyes that improves their vision in low-light conditions, helping them find the flying insects they feed on at dawn and dusk.
Eastern Whip-poor-will
Eastern Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus)
Chicks seem to hatch near full moons, giving parents more light for foraging so they can supply the extra energy demands of their rapidly-growing brood.
Eskimo Curlew
Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis)
The Eskimo Curlew is considered to be one of the world's most endangered birds and may already be extinct.
Eastern Mole
Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus)
special concern
Eastern Moles can dig more than a metre in an hour, and their tunnels can be up to a kilometre long.
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
The Golden Eagle has a wingspan of just over two metres and can weigh as much as six kilograms!
Golden-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)
special concern
Golden-winged Warblers tend to nest in loose groups or "colonies" that contain up to ten pairs of breeding birds.
Greater Prairie-Chicken
Greater Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)
The Greater Prairie-Chicken once numbered in the millions in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, but disappeared from most of its Canadian range by the mid-20th century.
Henslow’s Sparrow
Henslow’s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii)
The Henslow’s Sparrow is a short-distance migrant, travelling only as far as the southern United States, primarily from Texas to Georgia.
Horned Grebe
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
special concern
Chicks can swim and dive as soon as they hatch, but usually spend most of their first week or so of life on their parents’ backs, nestled between the parents’ wings and riding along while the parents swim.
King Rail
King Rail (Rallus elegans)
During courtship, males present crayfish or small crabs to females in their bill.
Kirtland’s Warbler
Kirtland’s Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii)
Kirtland’s Warbler is one of only a few warblers that have the distinctive habit of regularly pumping its tail up and down.
Least Bittern
Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis)
The Least Bittern is more likely to be heard than seen in its dense marsh habitat. The typical call given by males is a hollow, quiet “coo-coo-coo”. When alarmed, they can give a harsh “kek-kek-kek” call. They are most vocal in early morning and evening, but could potentially call anytime during the day or night.
Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)
Shrikes are sometimes called "butcher bird" because they impale their prey on thorns, barbed wire or sharp twigs.
Louisiana Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla)
special concern
The Louisiana Waterthrush is among the earliest long-distance migrating birds to arrive back to Canada in the spring, typically arriving by mid-April.
Northern Bobwhite
Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)
The male and female select the location for the nest and build it together. Both parents share the tasks of incubating eggs and caring for the young, however, it is not uncommon for one of the parents to incubate the first clutch once complete (often the male) while the other leaves to take another mate and start another clutch.
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi)
special concern
This bird’s loud and distinct “quick, three beers” song can be heard from up to a kilometre away.
Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
special concern
The peregrine falcon is one of the world’s fastest animals, and has been clocked diving for prey at speeds of 160 km an hour.
Piping Plover
Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
Within an hour of hatching and drying off, chicks are able to find their own food.
Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)
The Prothonotary Warbler was named after legal clerks in the Roman Catholic Church, known as prothonotaries, who sometimes wear a golden hood and a blue cape.
Red Knot rufa subspecies
Red Knot rufa subspecies (Calidris canutus rufa)
Factoid: This bird migrates from the central Canadian Arctic to southern South America, a distance of nearly 15,000 kilometres.
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
special concern
In addition to a bill, woodpeckers have special anatomical features to help them dig holes in wood and find insects. A covering of feathers over the nostrils keeps out pieces of wood and wood powder. A long, barbed tongue searches crevices and cracks for food. And the bird's salivary glands produce a glue-like substance that coats the tongue and, along with the barbs, helps it capture insects.
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
special concern
Short-eared Owls are nomadic, meaning that individuals wander over large distances, usually settling in areas where prey densities are high.
Yellow Rail
Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis)
special concern
In the breeding season, males can be heard almost always at night giving their distinct clicking sounds "tic-tic, tic-tic-tic", which sound like two stones being banged together. Birdwatchers will use pebbles to imitate the call and attract rails out to the edge of the reeds where they can be briefly observed.
Yellow-breasted Chat
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)
The Yellow-breasted Chat's song consists of a weird assortment of clicks, whistles ands even chuckles.


American Eel
American Eel (Anguilla rostrata)
These fish can absorb oxygen through their skin as well as their gills, allowing them to travel briefly over wet grass or mud.
Black Redhorse
Black Redhorse (Moxostoma duquesnei)
During the breeding season, the body colour of the male Black Redhorse changes from bluish-silver to a darker greenish-black.
Blackstripe Topminnow
Blackstripe Topminnow (Fundulus notatus)
special concern
The Blackstripe Topminnow was first discovered in Ontario in 1972, however it is believed that it has always lived here and has always been very rare.
Bridle Shiner
Bridle Shiner (Notropis bifrenatus)
special concern
The Bridle Shiner can be easily confused with the Blacknose Shiner, Blackchin Shiner and the Pugnose Shiner with which it commonly shares clear vegetated habitats.
Channel Darter
Channel Darter (Percina copelandi)
The sandy colour of the Channel Darter provides perfect camouflage with the sandy river and lake bottoms where it lives.
Cutlip Minnow
Cutlip Minnow (Exoglossum maxillingua)
The Cutlip Minnow is reported to attack and eat the eyes of other fish, which has earned it the nickname "eye-picker".
Eastern Sand Darter
Eastern Sand Darter (Ammocrypta pellucida)
During the breeding season, the normally drab-looking, male Eastern Sand Darters become flushed with yellowish colouration and can develop metallic blue and green colours on their cheeks.
Grass Pickerel
Grass Pickerel (Esox americanus vermiculatus)
special concern
The Grass Pickerel is a top predator and hunts by sight, either stalking or ambushing its preferred prey. Young Grass Pickerel usually feed on insects, while adults target other fish, sometimes even eating the young of their own species.
Gravel Chub
Gravel Chub (Erimystax x-punctata)
The bottom-feeding Gravel Chub uses sensitive barbels, or whiskers, at the corners of its mouth to find its prey of small insects and larvae by probing under rocks and in crevices.
Lake Chubsucker
Lake Chubsucker (Erimyzon sucetta)
Female Lake Chubsuckers can lay up to 20,000 eggs each!
Lake Sturgeon
Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens)
special concern (Southern Hudson Bay/James Bay population), threatened (Northwestern Ontario and Great Lakes-Upper St. Lawrence River populations)
The oldest known specimen of this fish, from Lake Huron, is 155 years old.
Northern Brook Lamprey
Northern Brook Lamprey (Ichthyomyzon fossor)
special concern
Unlike some other lamprey species, the Northern Brook Lamprey is non-parasitic and does not attach itself to larger host fish. The larvae are filter-feeders, consuming microscopic plant and animal life and decaying matter. Adults have a non-functional intestine and do not feed.
Northern Madtom
Northern Madtom (Noturus stigmosus)
The sharp spines and poison glands found on the pectoral fins of the Northern Madtom can cause a painful wound!
Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)
Paddlefish have no teeth and eat by filtering zooplankton out of the water. They swim with their mouths open, filtering the water through gill arches in the mouth. The gill arches have filaments on them called gill rakers that sieve the zooplankton organisms from the water.
Pugnose Minnow
Pugnose Minnow (Opsopoeodus emiliae)
special concern
Pugnose Minnows have a lifespan of about three years.
Pugnose Shiner
Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus)
The Pugnose Shiner is one of the rarest minnows in eastern North America.
Redside Dace
Redside Dace (Clinostomus elongatus)
Redside dace are the only fish in Canada with the ability to jump out of the water to eat.
River Redhorse
River Redhorse (Moxostoma carinatum)
special concern
The maximum age reported for River Redhorse in Canada is 28 years.
Shortjaw Cisco
Shortjaw Cisco (Coregonus zenithicus)
When it was more common, the Shortjaw Cisco was likely an important food source for fish predators such as Lake Trout and Burbot.
Shortnose Cisco
Shortnose Cisco (Coregonus reighardi)
The Shortnose Cisco, also called chub, was once commercially fished in the Great Lakes. In the late 1800s it was the main fish caught by Toronto fishing boats. By the 1930s this species was seldom caught and by the 1980s it had nearly disappeared.
Silver Chub
Silver Chub (Macrhybopsis storeriana)
special concern
Pollution abatement in and around Lake Erie has improved water quality dramatically which has helped improve habitat conditions for the Silver Chub.
Silver Lamprey
Silver Lamprey (Ichthyomyzon unicuspis)
special concern (Great Lakes – Upper St. Lawrence River Population)
Silver lampreys belong to the most ancestral lineage of vertebrates (animals with backbones). From them we may be able to learn about evolutionary pathways, such as the transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates.
Silver Shiner
Silver Shiner (Notropis photogenis)
special concern
Silver Shiners are easily confused with Emerald Shiners and Rosyface Shiners, which may have contributed to the fact that they were only confirmed in Canada in 1973, but may have always been present.
Spotted Gar
Spotted Gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)
The Spotted Gar can breathe air! It uses a special organ called a swim bladder like a lung when the fish comes to the surface for a breath of air. This allows the fish to live in areas with little oxygen in the water. Like most fishes, the Spotted Gar also uses gills to breath underwater.
Spotted Sucker
Spotted Sucker (Minytrema melanops)
special concern
Spotted Sucker was not observed in Canada until 1962, when it was captured by a commerical fisherman in Lake St. Clair.
Upper Great Lakes Kiyi
Upper Great Lakes Kiyi (Coregonus kiyi kiyi)
special concern
The Kiyi can be distinguished from the two other deepwater cisco species, Bloater and Shortjaw Cisco, known to exist in the Great Lakes by its unique combination of long paired fins, and eyes so large they make up almost 25 per cent of the head length.
Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)
special concern
The Warmouth feeds on small fishes, crayfishes and aquatic insects, and is likely to eat proportionally more fishes than most sunfishes.


American Burying Beetle
American Burying Beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)
American burying beetles are the largest carrion feeding insects in North America. These beetles have highly sensitive organs on their antennae that can detect the smell of decaying flesh three kilometres away.
Aweme Borer Moth
Aweme Borer Moth (Papaipema aweme)
An Aweme Borer was found on Manitoulin Island in 2005 – the first sighting of this species in almost 70 years!
Bogbean Buckmoth
Bogbean Buckmoth (Hemileuca sp.)
Unlike most buckmoths, which live in drier habitats, the Bogbean Buckmoth depends primarily on wetlands that support the bogbean, its preferred food source.
Eastern Persius Duskywing
Eastern Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius persius)
Frosted Elfin
Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus)
The Frosted Elfin is a poor flier, which, along with its dependence on lupine, may explain why its populations are isolated and scattered.
Karner Blue
Karner Blue (Castanea dentata)
The Karner Blue has a lifespan of about five days as an adult butterfly.
Laura’s Clubtail
Laura’s Clubtail (Stylurus laurae)
Laura’s Clubtail was first recorded in Ontario in 1999.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
special concern
Caterpillars store a toxin in milkweed plants they eat, making them poisonous to bird predators as adults.
Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle
Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle (Cicindela patruela)
Females lay about 50 eggs during early summer, placing each egg in an individual hole in the ground.
Rapids Clubtail
Rapids Clubtail (Gomphus quadricolor)
Larvae bury themselves under a fine layer of sediment and “breathe” through the exposed tips of their abdomens.
Rusty-patched Bumble Bee
Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis)
The Rusty-patched Bumble Bee gets nectar from flowers by biting a hole in the outside of it and sucking up the nectar with its tongue. This behaviour, called “nectar-robbing”, leaves marks on the flower than can help researchers detect the bees’ presence in an area.
West Virginia White
West Virginia White (Pieris virginiensis)
special concern
This butterfly was officially listed as endangered by Ontario in 1977, but in 1990, after a review of its distribution and abundance, its status was changed to vulnerable (now “special concern”).


Flooded Jellyskin
Flooded Jellyskin (Leptogium rivulare)
Flooded Jellyskin is considered rare wherever it occurs worldwide.
Pale-bellied Frost Lichen
Pale-bellied Frost Lichen (Physconia subpallida)
This lichen grows on the surface of other plants, rocks, or structures and derives nutrients from the air and rain.


Common Five-lined Skink
Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus)
endangered (Carolinian population), special concern (Great Lakes/St. Lawrence population)
When attacked by a potential predator, a skink's tail can "autotomize": spontaneously break off and thrash for several minutes, distracting the predator so the lizard can escape. The tail is able to grow back at a rate of about six millimetres a week.


American Badger
American Badger (Taxidea taxus)
When threatened, badgers release a foul smelling musk to drive off enemies.
Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas)
special concern
The Beluga’s enlarged forehead is involved in echo-location, in which clicks are emitted to help locate prey and aid in navigation under ice. The forehead is thought to focus the clicks.
Eastern Mole
Eastern Mole (Scalopus aquaticus)
special concern
Eastern Moles can dig more than a metre in an hour, and their tunnels can be up to a kilometre long.
Eastern Wolf
Eastern Wolf (Canis lupus lycaon)
special concern
Genetic testing of Eastern Wolves has shown that they contain both Red Wolf and Coyote genes
Grey Fox
Grey Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)
Grey Foxes can climb trees! They use their sharp, hooked claws to scramble up tree trunks and can even jump from branch to branch.
Little Brown Bat
Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)
Little brown bats are one of only two bat species in Ontario that are known to use human structures as summer maternity colony habitat.
Mountain Lion (Cougar)
Mountain Lion (Cougar) (Puma concolor)
Cougars rarely chase their prey. They are masters of camouflage and will slowly and silently slink forward and then pounce. The Cougar usually hunts at night.
Northern Long-eared Bat
Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)
While most Ontario bats catch their dinner in mid-air, northern long-eared bats have also been observed flying down and picking insects off tree leaves, grasses and the ground.
Polar Bear
Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
Female polar bears can travel more than 3,500 kilometres in a year.
Wolverine (Gulo gulo)
Wolverines mark their territory with urine and a musty-smelling scent from glands at the base of the tail, which led to its nickname “skunk-bear”. This scent marker tells other animals, “This area is occupied!”
Woodland Caribou (Forest-dwelling boreal population)
Caribou are excellent swimmers with hollow hair that makes them extremely buoyant.
Woodland Vole
Woodland Vole (Microtus pinetorum)
special concern
Woodland Voles are monogamous, and both males and females participate in caring for the young.


Eastern Pondmussel
Eastern Pondmussel (Ligumia nasuta)
To attract fish for its larvae to attach to, the female pondmussel produces a lure that looks like the wriggling legs of a swimming shrimp.
Fawnsfoot (Truncilla donaciformis)
This mussel can be distinguished from other Canadian freshwater species by the chevron-shaped markings on its shell and its very small size.
Kidneyshell (Ptychobranchus fasciolaris)
Kidneyshell larvae are clustered into packages called "conglutinates" when released, and somewhat resemble fish fry complete with eye spots, or insect larvae. When a fooled fish bites down on one of these packages, the larvae burst out and attach to the fish gills where they live as parasites and consume nutrients from the fish until they transform into juvenile mussels and drop off.
Mapleleaf Mussel
Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula quadrula)
The Mapleleaf Mussel depends on the channel catfish to survive. By attaching itself to the gills of the catfish, the mussel larvae consume nutrients from the fish until they transform into juvenile mussels and drop off.
Salamander Mussel
Salamander Mussel (Simpsonaias ambigua)
The larvae of most freshwater mussels must attach to a fish host in order to survive. Once attached, the tiny parasitic larvae consume nutrients from the fish until they transform into mussels. The Salamander Mussel is unique in that their larvae use the aquatic Mudpuppy salamander as a host, instead of a fish.
Northern Riffleshell
Northern Riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana)
Northern Riffleshell may be the most imperiled mussel species we have in Ontario, as it is believed there are fewer than 15 locations where this species occurs globally.
Rainbow Mussel
Rainbow Mussel (Villosa iris)
A mussel larva must attach to a host fish where it stays until is has consumed enough nutrients to transform into a juvenile mussel. The female Rainbow Mussel goes fishing for host fish by producing a lure that looks just like a crayfish, including an eyespot and wriggling legs. When a fooled fish attacks the lure the mussel ejects its larvae, which have a better chance of attaching to the host fish at such a close distance.
Rayed Bean
Rayed Bean (Villosa fabalis)
The Rayed Bean is extremely rare throughout its range. It is known from fewer than 25 river systems in Canada and the United States.
Round Hickorynut
Round Hickorynut (Obovaria subrotunda)
It is estimated that Round Hickorynut populations in Canada have declined by more than 90 per cent since the invasion of the Great Lakes by Zebra Mussels.
Round Pigtoe
Round Pigtoe (Pleurobema sintoxia)
Round Pigtoe eggs hatch inside a special pouch in the mother’s gills called a marsupium, where the larvae are supported before being ejected into the water.
Wavy-rayed Lampmussel
Wavy-rayed Lampmussel (Lampsilis fasciola)
The Wavy-rayed Lampmussel can fish. To attract a fish host that its parasitic larvae can attach to, the female produces a lure that looks like a wriggling minnow. When a fooled fish attacks the lure, the mussel ejects its larvae, which have a better chance of attaching to the host at such a close distance.
Hickorynut (Obovaria olivaria)
Hickorynut shells were considered valuable for the pearl button industry in the early 20th century, and were harvested for these purposes in the United States.
Snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra)
The Snuffbox's main host is the Logperch, which is known to frequently roll over small stones and gravel in search of food. The Snuffbox waits patiently for a Logperch to come along and touch its shell. The Snuffbox then captures the Logperch in its shell and holds the stunned fish long enough to puff out a cloud of mussel larvae that attach to the fish gills, where they live as parasites that consume nutrients from the fish body. The startled fish is then released.


American Chestnut
American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)
People used the American Chestnut for treating numerous ailments (from coughs and dermatitis to heart trouble), as a staple food and beverage, to build shelters, for firewood and as a source of dye. Early settlers soon realized the many important uses of this tree.
American Columbo
American Columbo (Frasera caroliniensis)
American Columbo may live for many years but it flowers only once and then dies.
American Ginseng
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
Aboriginal people have used American Ginseng for a wide range of medicinal purposes including treatment of headaches, earaches, rheumatism, convulsions, bleeding, fevers, vomiting, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and as a cure-all when other treatments failed.
American Water-willow
American Water-willow (Justicia americana)
American Water-willow (Latin name: Justicia americana) is named after James Justice who was an 18th century Scottish horticulturalist and botanist. “Americana” refers to the plant being native to the Americas.
Bent spike-rush
Bent spike-rush (Eleocharis geniculata)
This plant can store seeds in the soil for years waiting for the right conditions to grow.
Bird's-foot Violet
Bird's-foot Violet (Viola pedata)
Bird’s-foot Violet has a creative way to disperse seeds. The tiny seeds are contained inside a smooth green seedpod that bursts open and flings the seeds up to five metres away.
Blue Ash
Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata)
special concern
Blue Ash is named for the dye which can be extracted by mashing and cooking the inner trunk bark. It was used by First Nations and early European settlers.
Bluehearts (Buchnera americana)
The seeds of Bluehearts require light to germinate. As a result, the species depends on disturbances such as fire and water level fluctuations to prevent shade-producing vegetation, trees and shrubs from taking over their habitat.
Blunt-lobed Woodsia
Blunt-lobed Woodsia (Woodsia obtusa)
Blunt-lobed Woodsia may live as long as several decades.
Branched Bartonia
Branched Bartonia (Bartonia paniculata)
This plant’s tiny fruits are only about four millimetres long, but each fruit contains 1,000 to 1,500 seeds.
Broad Beech Fern
Broad Beech Fern (Phegopteris hexagonoptera)
special concern
Broad Beech Fern reproduces through spores. The spores are contained in a case-like structure called a sporangium. The sporangia burst upon maturity at the end of summer and the spores are scattered through the air.
Butternut (Juglans cinerea)
Aboriginal people used this plant medicinally to treat toothaches, injuries and digestive problems.
Cherry Birch
Cherry Birch (Betula lenta)
A Cherry Birch tree can live for 265 years or longer.
Climbing Prairie Rose
Climbing Prairie Rose (Rosa setigera)
special concern
Climbing Prairie Rose is dioecious (having male and female reproductive structures on separate plants), which is unusual for rose species.
Colicroot (Aletris farinosa)
Colicroot is also known as “Ague root” because it was used to treat some fevers, which were often referred to as “ague” in Middle English.
Common Hoptree
Common Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata)
Common Hoptree is one of two native larval host plants for the rare Giant Swallowtail butterfly.
Crooked-stem Aster
Crooked-stem Aster (Symphyotrichum prenanthoides)
Bees and butterflies pollinate the flowers of the Crooked-stem Aster. The seeds are scattered by wind after ripening.
Cucumber Tree
Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata)
The Cucumber Tree gets its name from its fruit that is pickle-like in shape and changes from green to red as it ripens. Once ripe, the oily, scented seeds are exposed and hang by fine threads. It is assumed that birds are the main consumers and dispersers of these seeds.
Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum)
Efforts are being made at St. Lawrence Islands National Park to re-introduce Deerberry to other areas of the park where the habitat is suitable, in order to increase the overall numbers of the species. Related research is being carried out in partnership with universities.
Dense Blazing Star
Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)
Dense Blazing Star is able to grow in soil that is contaminated with cadmium by turning this toxic heavy metal into a non-toxic form in its tissues.
Drooping Trillium
Drooping Trillium (Trillium flexipes)
Drooping Trillium may take up to 10 years to produce flowers.
Dwarf Hackberry
Dwarf Hackberry (Celtis tenuifolia)
Many insects rely on the Dwarf Hackberry for survival. Several rare insects, including beetles that were only recently discovered in Canada, also depend on the Dwarf Hackberry for part of their life cycles.
Dwarf Lake Iris
Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris)
special concern
Michigan recently designated the Dwarf Lake Iris as its official wildflower.
Eastern Flowering Dogwood
Eastern Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
The bright red fruit of this tree is poisonous to humans but can be eaten by over 50 species of birds and small mammals. These animals help distribute Eastern Flowering Dogwood seeds throughout forests.
Eastern Prairie Fringed-orchid
Eastern Prairie Fringed-orchid (Platanthera leucophaea)
This orchid’s seeds are produced in huge numbers, but germination and seedling growth depend on the presence of special fungi in the soil.
Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus
Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
Birds sometimes nest among the stems of the Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus, where spines of the cactus aid in protecting eggs and nestlings from predators.
Engelmann's Quillwort
Engelmann's Quillwort (Isoetes engelmannii)
Researchers need to examine this plant under a microscope to tell the difference between different types of quillworts.
False Hop Sedge
False Hop Sedge (Carex lupuliformis)
The tiny flowers of False Hop Sedge are wind pollinated, so the plant does not attract many insects. However, the caterpillars of various butterflies, skippers, and moths feed on various sedge species, while a number of species of birds feed on the seeds.
False Rue-anemone
False Rue-anemone (Enemion biternatum)
Unlike other flowering plants, False Rue-anemone does not produce nectar to attract insects to pollinate its flowers. However, because it is one of the first plants to produce flowers in the spring, it is able to attract insects that don’t yet have tastier options.
Few-flowered Club-rush
Few-flowered Club-rush (Trichophorum planifolium)
All Canadian populations of this plant have been found near openings in the forest canopy, suggesting that once the ground is heavily shaded, this sedge cannot survive.
Forked Three-awned Grass
Forked Three-awned Grass (Aristida basiramea)
Since Forked Three-awned Grass is an annual, its growth and reproduction are influenced by each year’s environmental conditions. This makes estimating population size difficult, as a number of plants present in an area may remain relatively undetectable in the soil seed bank during any given year.
Four-leaved Milkweed
Four-leaved Milkweed (Asclepias quadrifolia)
The two populations of Four-leaved Milkweed which are known to still exist in Ontario were only recently discovered – in 2006 and 2007. It is possible that additional populations may be identified in the future.
Gattinger's Agalinis
Gattinger's Agalinis (Agalinis gattingeri)
Gattinger's Agalinis looks so similar to its close relative, Skinner's Agalinis, that it can only be distinguished by experts who closely analyze specific features of the flowers, leaves and stems.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
A tea made from the roots of Goldenseal was used in traditional aboriginal medicine to treat a variety of complaints including ulcerated or inflamed mucous membranes. This plant continues to be popular in herbal medicine today, but only farm-grown Goldenseal should be used owing to its extreme rarity in the wild.
Green Dragon
Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium)
special concern
The Green Dragon’s root is bitter tasting and poisonous unless specially prepared, but it was used medicinally by Aboriginal people and European settlers.
Hart's-tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium americanum)
special concern
Hart’s-tongue Fern has very specific habitat requirements, making transplantation and artificial propagation difficult.
Heart-leaved Plantain
Heart-leaved Plantain (Plantago cordata)
Heart-leaved Plantain is capable of self-pollinating but generally the seeds are wind-pollinated.
Hill's Pondweed
Hill's Pondweed (Potamogeton hillii)
special concern
Hill’s Pondweed was not discovered in Ontario until 1951, but a specimen in the Canadian Museum of Nature was collected in 1901. More historical specimens may be discovered in Canadian collections.
Hill's Thistle
Hill's Thistle (Cirsium hillii)
In Ontario, Hill's Thistle often grows with other species at risk such as Lakeside Daisy and Houghton's Goldenrod.
Hoary Mountain-mint
Hoary Mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum incanum)
Hoary Mountain-mint is a very fragrant plant that is attractive to bees and known to produce high quality honey.
Horsetail Spike-rush
Horsetail Spike-rush (Eleocharis equisetoides)
Horsetail Spike-rush was used by the Seminole Indians to make beads for jewelry.
Houghton's Goldenrod
Houghton's Goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii)
Houghton's Goldenrod is thought to have evolved as a result of hybridization between two other goldenrod species and a subsequent increase in chromosome number.
Illinois Tick-trefoil
Illinois Tick-trefoil (Desmodium illinoense)
Illinois Tick-trefoil has explosive blossoms, which means that when a bee or butterfly stops on a flower, a cloud of pollen is shot at it.
Incurved Grizzled Moss
Incurved Grizzled Moss (Ptychomitrium incurvum)
Juniper Sedge
Juniper Sedge (Carex juniperorum)
This species is new to science. The biology of the Juniper Sedge is not well known, since the plant was only discovered in Ontario in the early 1990s.
Kentucky Coffee-tree
Kentucky Coffee-tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
The leaves and seeds of Kentucky Coffee-tree contain a toxic substance, the alkaloid, cytosine, which may be fatal if consumed. However, aboriginal people used the roasted seeds of the Kentucky Coffee-tree to treat headaches and relieve digestion problems. Roasting is supposed to neutralize the toxins.
Lakeside Daisy
Lakeside Daisy (Tetraneuris herbacea)
The Ontario populations of Lakeside Daisy constitute about 95 per cent of the populations existing in the world. Lakeside Daisy is one of very few plant species with most of its global range in Ontario.
Large Whorled Pogonia
Large Whorled Pogonia (Isotria verticillata)
As do all orchids, Large Whorled Pogonia has a symbiotic relationship with fungus found in the soil, which means they are interdependent for nourishment and survival. The Large Whorled Pogonia will only produce seeds if the necessary fungus is present in the soil.
Nodding Pogonia
Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora)
Orchids can remain dormant in the soil before emerging when the conditions are suitable.
Ogden's Pondweed
Ogden's Pondweed (Potamogeton ogdenii)
Pondweeds provide habitat for aquatic invertebrates, food for mammals and waterfowl, and hiding places for amphibians and fish.
Pink Milkwort
Pink Milkwort (Polygala incarnata)
Fire plays an important role in maintaining open prairie habitat where Pink Milkwort lives. Fire actually stimulates the growth of these hardy flowers and naturally removes trees and shrubs that would otherwise overtake its habitat
Pitcher's Thistle
Pitcher's Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri)
Pitcher’s Thistle was named after Dr. Zina Pitcher, who discovered the plant while serving as an army surgeon during the 1820s at Fort Brady, Sault Ste. Marie on Lake Superior.
Purple Twayblade
Purple Twayblade (Liparis liliifolia)
Purple Twayblade often grows in grassland savanna – one of the most endangered habitats in Canada. This extremely rare community supports an amazing diversity of wildlife, plants, butterflies and other insects.
Pygmy Pocket Moss
Pygmy Pocket Moss (Fissidens exilis)
special concern
Pygmy Pocket Moss can self-fertilize and produce fertile spores without being in close proximity to other Pygmy Pocket Mosses.
Red Mulberry
Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)
Unlike most fruit trees that are pollinated by insects, the flowers of this plant are pollinated by the wind.
Riddell's Goldenrod
Riddell's Goldenrod (Solidago riddellii)
special concern
Riddell’s Goldenrod has the potential to self-pollinate but it is primarily an out-breeder, pollinated by a variety of flies, bees, wasps, and moths.
Round-leaved Greenbrier
Round-leaved Greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia)
The seeds of Round-leaved Greenbrier can remain buried in the soil for at least three years while waiting for the right conditions to start growing a new plant.
Scarlet Ammannia
Scarlet Ammannia (Ammannia robusta)
In British Columbia, Scarlet Ammannia is found alongside another species at risk, Toothcup (Rotala ramosior). While these species are also both found in Ontario, they do not occur together here.
Showy Goldenrod
Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)
threatened (Boreal population), endangered (Great Lakes Plains population)
The root of this species was used by Aboriginal people for burns, strained muscles, trouble breathing and difficult labour.
Shumard Oak
Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii)
special concern
The Shumard Oak’s shiny, deep-lobed leaves help distinguish the species from the similar-looking Red Oak.
Skinner's Agalinis
Skinner's Agalinis (Agalinis skinneriana)
Skinner's Agalinis is able to steal nutrients from other plants. It uses a fungus to attach its own roots to the roots of its host plant, and is then able to leech nutrients and water out of the plant.
Slender Bush-clover
Slender Bush-clover (Lespedeza virginica)
Fire plays an important roll in maintaining the prairie habitat of Slender Bush-clover. Fire naturally removes trees, shrubs and many invasive plants that would otherwise shade-out prairie plants.
Small White Lady's-slipper
Small White Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium candidum)
Individual Small White Lady’s-slipper plants may not flower until as many as 16 years after germination.
Small Whorled Pogonia
Small Whorled Pogonia (Isotria medeoloides)
The Small Whorled Pogonia appears to be primarily self-pollinated. The flowers lack nectar guides and fragrance and insect pollination has not been observed.
Small-flowered Lipocarpha
Small-flowered Lipocarpha (Lipocarpha micrantha)
This tiny plant has a very wide range. It is found all the way from Brazil to southern Canada, and in Africa.
Spoon-leaved Moss
Spoon-leaved Moss (Bryoandersonia illecebra)
A previously unknown population of Spoon-leaved Moss was discovered in Welland County in 2002.
Spotted Wintergreen
Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata)
Aboriginal peoples used Spotted Wintergreen for a variety of medicinal purposes including as a poultice, for rheumatism, and for the treatment of colds and fevers.
Spring Blue-eyed Mary
Spring Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna)
The plant’s flowers are pollinated by bees, butterflies and flies.
Swamp Rose-mallow
Swamp Rose-mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
special concern
The total Canadian population of Swamp Rose-mallow is estimated to consist of fewer than 10,000 plants.
Toothcup (Rotala ramosior)
The populations of Toothcup in Canada are believed to be post-glacial relicts - a once widespread natural population surviving only in isolated localities in British Columbia and Ontario because of environmental changes.
Tuberous Indian-plantain
Tuberous Indian-plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum)
special concern
"Tuberous" refers to the plant’s fleshy, thickened roots.
Virginia Goat's-rue
Virginia Goat's-rue (Tephrosia virginiana)
Virginia Goat's-rue has its own self-defence against pesky insects. The chemical rotenone has been found in the plant, a chemical that is used as an insecticide and piscicide.
Virginia Mallow
Virginia Mallow (Sida hermaphrodita)
In Poland and Russia, this plant is cultivated and used as biomass for creating energy and heat.
Western Silvery Aster
Western Silvery Aster (Symphyotrichum sericeum)
This plant is Ontario's rarest aster, growing in rare bur oak savannahs.
White Prairie Gentian
White Prairie Gentian (Gentiana alba)
Bumblebees are one of the few insects that are strong enough to open the White Prairie Gentian's flowers and pollinate them.
White Wood Aster
White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata)
The flowers of White Wood Aster are attractive to butterflies and it is the host plant for Pearly Crescents, a common North American butterfly.
Wild Hyacinth
Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides)
A single Wild Hyacinth can produce over 100 flowers in a single season.
Willowleaf Aster
Willowleaf Aster (Symphyotrichum praealtum)
Aboriginal people used Willowleaf Aster to treat stomach aches and injuries. They also smoked the dried leaves for good luck while hunting.
Wood-poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)
Wood-poppy seeds have an "elaiosome", which is a fleshy structure that is rich in lipids and proteins. Ants, which are attracted to these elaiosomes, carry them back to their nests, feed them to their larvae, and then discard the intact seed. In doing this, the ants serve as dispersers of the Wood-poppy seeds.


Blue Racer
Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor foxii)
The Blue Racer is among the most graceful and swiftest of Ontario’s snakes, though it only reaches a top speed of 12 to16 kilometres per hour. It is easily startled and will flee if threatened. It will also imitate a rattlesnake by vibrating the tip of its tail in leaf litter to produce a buzzing sound.
Butler's Gartersnake
Butler's Gartersnake (Thamnophis butleri)
The Butler's Gartersnake exhibits a peculiar behaviour called side-winding. When excited, it will vigorously wriggle from side to side, making little forward progress.
Eastern Foxsnake
Eastern Foxsnake (Pantherophis gloydi)
endangered (Carolinian population), threatened (Georgian Bay population)
If frightened, this harmless snake will mimic a rattlesnake by vibrating the tip of its tail in leaf litter to produce a buzzing noise.
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake
Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
Unlike other snakes that tend to hibernate in groups, the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake usually spends the winter months alone. It may hibernate in a pre-existing burrow or dig a burrow in the ground with its snout.
Eastern Ribbonsnake
Eastern Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus)
special concern
Many species of snakes lay eggs, but Eastern Ribbonsnakes give birth to live young.
Gray Ratsnake
Gray Ratsnake (Pantherophis spiloides)
Endangered (Carolinian population), Threatened (Frontenac Axis population)
This snake is an excellent climber and may be seen up a tree or bush sunning, preparing to shed its skin or hunting for prey.
Lake Erie Watersnake
Lake Erie Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum)
Lake Erie Watersnakes can be a paler colour than watersnakes found elsewhere in Ontario. This is believed to be an adaptation that helps the snake camouflage on the pale limestone beaches characteristic of the islands it inhabits.
Massasauga Rattlesnake
Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus)
The Massasauga is very shy and prefers to hide or retreat from enemies rather than bite them. If threatened, it will shake its tail as a warning and strike only as a last resort to protect itself if it can not escape.
Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum)
special concern
The Milksnake got its name from the false belief that it takes milk from cows in barns, which it often inhabits. Milksnakes cannot drink milk, and are attracted to barns by the abundance of mice.
Queensnake (Regina septemvittata)
Queensnakes are excellent swimmers and can often be seen swimming and hunting underwater for their main food source – freshly-moulted crayfish. When freshly moulted, crayfish are soft, defenceless and easier to swallow. Ironically, during winter hibernation, crayfish turn the table and will eat juvenile and hibernating Queensnakes.


Blanding's Turtle
Blanding's Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)
These turtles can survive in the wild for more than 75 years.
Eastern Musk Turtle
Eastern Musk Turtle (Stinkpot) (Sternotherus odoratus)
Unlike other turtles, the Eastern Musk Turtle rarely leaves the water except when females lay eggs. It spends most of the day resting on the soft lake bottom, foraging for food or basking in the sun under floating aquatic vegetation in shallow water.
Northern Map Turtle
Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica)
special concern
The Northern Map Turtle is extremely wary and will dive into the water at the slightest provocation.
Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
special concern
These turtles spend so much time underwater that algae grow on their shells. This helps them blend in with their surroundings.
Spiny Softshell
Spiny Softshell (Apalone spinifera)
The Spiny Softshell turtle captures crayfish and molluscs by partially burying itself underwater in the sand or mud and snatching unsuspecting prey. Its snorkel-like snout allows it to take a breath of air while submerged.
Spotted Turtle
Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)
Most female and male turtles look a little bit different. In the case of Spotted Turtles, females have bright orange eyes and chins whereas males’ are dark brown or black.
Wood Turtle
Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta)
Wood turtles do not begin reproducing until they are at least 17 years old.


Blanding turtle

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