The following plants and lichens are considered species at risk. If you see any species at risk, please Report your observations to HHLT, or directly to our project biologist, Paul Heaven, Glenside Ecological Services Ltd. Click here to download the Species at Risk Observation Summary Sheet and send it to us (see contact info) or send an email to Paul Heaven, firstname.lastname@example.org
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is categorized as Endangered, both provincially and nationally, although it is not regulated under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.
American Ginseng prefers rich, moist, undisturbed and relatively mature, sugar maple-dominated deciduous forests with a forest canopy specifically dominated by Sugar Maple, White Ash, Bitternut Hickory and Basswood.
A basal area of 18m2/ha or greater would provide the necessary canopy closure for American Ginseng. American Ginseng requires soils of neutral pH such as soils over limestone or marble bedrock and colonies are often found near the bottom of gentle slopes facing south-east to south-west.
The primary threats to American Ginseng are illegal harvesting and habitat loss and degradation. The market value of wild American Ginseng remains high despite legal cultivation and exportation of Ginseng. If populations are harvested below their minimal viable population, estimated at approximately 170 plants, local extirpation can result.
American Ginseng is a shade-tolerant species with specific habitat requirements and therefore heavy logging operations that open the forest canopy significantly can be detrimental. Physical damage can also result from the skidding and felling of logs.
The Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra) is nationally categorized as Threatened, and assessed as Endangered provincially. Black Ash has yet to be officially listed as a Species at Risk in Ontario.
The Black Ash is a deciduous tree with a compound leaf of 7-11 stalkless leaflets. It is of moderate size reaching heights of 20 m and diameters of up to 50 cm.
The Black Ash is predominantly a wetland species, that is intolerant of shade and has a preference for more alkaline sites. Despite the latter, the range of the Black Ash extends north to the Albany and Moose River drainages near James Bay. The Black Ash provides important habitat for Flooded Jellyskin; a cyanolichen listed as a Species at Risk.
Black Ash populations have been devastated by an invasive beetle, the Emerald Ash Borer. The Emerald Ash Borer was first detected in Windsor, Canada in 2002, and is expected to expand farther north in response to the impacts of climate change. Projected mortality rates of Black Ash are estimated at greater than 90%.
Butternut (Juglans cinera) is categorized as Endangered both federally and provincially.
Butternut is typically found on rich, moist, well-drained loams and possibly on well-drained gravelly sites, and is associated with calcareous soils such as that of limestone origin. Other trees species often associated with Butternut are Basswood, Black Cherry, Beech, Black Walnut, Elm, Hemlock, Hickory, Oak, Red Maple, Sugar Maple, White Ash and Yellow Birch. These habitat parameters are similar to that of American Ginseng and the presence of Butternut may be an indicator of this species.
Butternut is intolerant of shade and therefore is usually found as scattered individuals or in small groups in mixed hardwood stands. Stream banks are a common location for this species.
Butternut canker is rapidly and aggressively spreading across the landscape and can cause mortality in trees of all ages and sizes. The canker infects trees through leaf scars, buds, lenticels and wounds and kills trees by crown dieback and stem girdling. It has yet to be determined whether trees can have complete immunity or if resistance is only present at varying degrees. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is interested in knowing where Butternut are located and monitoring their health.
Engelmann’s Quillwort (Isoetes engelmannii) is an inconspicuous perennial plant with simple grass-like leaves.
This shallow water species is nationally and provincially listed as Endangered. There are only two known locations in Canada, both of which occur in Ontario and one of which is in the County of Haliburton.
Engelmann’s Quillwort is found in shallow waters in fresh, flowing, circumneutral (neutral pH) to calcareous waters and substrates. The substrates consist of a sand or silty sand layer over clay or clayey-sand, often within a dense granitic cobble bed, although it can occur on open relatively rockfree river sediment as well. River habitat is typically protected from heavy currents and wave action, but currents must be moderate as Engelmann’s Quillwort is rarely found in still, warm water. On-site surveys of approximately 120 potential sites along the Severn and Gull River were completed in 2002-2005; however, no further populations were identified.
Threats to Engelmann’s Quillwort include mechanical damage (boat traffic, wave action, raking etc.), nutrient enrichment, herbicide application, competition and deliberate removal. The uplands adjacent to the Gull River population are privately owned.
The Flooded Jellyskin (Leptogium rivulare) is categorized as a species of Special Concern nationally, and Not at Risk provincially.
Flooded Jellyskin is a small, grey or bluish-leafy lichen that is a composite of a fungus and a cyanobacterium. Irregular in shape, this lichen has narrow, paper-thin lobes that radiate out for 1-2 cm. The lobes are smooth except for minute, light reddish-brown apothecia (reproductive structures). As the name suggests, when wet the lobes of this lichen swell slightly, becoming somewhat jelly-like, black and translucent.
Flooded Jellyskin is found below the highwater mark, attached to the lower trunks of seasonally flooded trees or rocks in seasonal ponds and along lakeshores and waterways. Most populations are associated with calcareous soils and found on the trunks of Black Ash trees.
With Black Ash as the principal host, the decline in Black Ash populations from the invasion of Emerald Ash Borer is the primary threat to Flooded Jellyskin. Other threats include another invasive species, the Dusky Slug, that directly feeds on lichens; and anthropogenic alterations of water levels in seasonal ponds (e.g. filling, draining etc.)
Pale-bellied Frost Lichen
The Pale-bellied Frost Lichen (Physconia subpallida) is categorized as Endangered, nationally and provincially.
Pale-bellied Frost Lichen is a circular/ rosette-forming leafy microlichen that ranges in size from 1-2 cm in diameter and up to 8-11 cm. Flat elongated lobes, 1-2.5 mm wide extend from the center to the outer edges. Some specimens have a densely lobulate center with erect cylindrical lobules whereas others have flattened lobules protruding from the margins of the apothecia (i.e., reproductive structures). The white powdery covering provides a stark contrast to the bark of trees where the lichen resides.
In Canada, the Pale-bellied Frost Lichen is restricted to two locations in southern, central Ontario, one of which is in the County of Haliburton. Pale-bellied Frost Lichen grows as an epiphyte on hardwood trees, specifically ash, Black Walnut, Hop-hornbeam and elm. Habitat conditions require mature to old-growth deciduous forests with high levels of humidity, and therefore host trees are often found on or just over the crest of northwest, north and northeast facing slopes with a moderate grade.
Loss and fragmentation of old growth forests in southern and central Ontario is the primary threat to Pale-bellied Frost Lichen. Pollution (specifically Sulphur Dioxide) and climate change impacts affecting humidity may also be threatening this lichen.