Species Profile

Furbish's Lousewort

Scientific Name: Pedicularis furbishiae
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: New Brunswick
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2011
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: C2a(i)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

This plant exists at low numbers in a dynamic and restricted habitat along the Saint John River in New Brunswick. Changes to river dynamics, land clearing of buffer trees, recreational activities, and the introduction of invasive species have resulted in continuing population decline at the existing sites.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in April 1980. Status re-examined and confirmed Endangered in April 1998, May 2000, and May 2011.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Furbish's Lousewort

Furbish's Lousewort Photo 1



Furbish's Lousewort is a perennial herb that averages 75 cm in height. Usually the stem is simple, but there may be a few branches on the upper part of some stems. One of the main distinguishing features of this plant is the deeply incised leaflet, especially on the lower leaves.


Distribution and Population

Furbish's Lousewort is a local endemic plant confined to a narrow strip of land close to the water's edge along the banks of the upper St. John River in northern New Brunswick in Canada and northern Maine in the U.S.A. In 1980 there were an estimated 1115 plants - about 402 in New Brunswick and about 713 in Maine. Although there is little data on which to base population trends, there is an impression that the population is increasing slightly over the whole range in New Brunswick, and that the population level in Maine is stable.



Furbish's Lousewort grows on the bank of the St. John River in three areas of New Brunswick and at 18 sites in Maine. The habitat is different at each of the locations. In New Brunswick, the first area is a narrow bank of moist, well drained, sandy or gravelly calcareous soil. The plants grow within 7.6 m of the water and not more than 1 m in vertical distance above it. The plants are on a sloping, clean-cut line where mixed forest and river meet, and are shaded most of the day. Shrubs are present in small numbers, but do not clutter the shoreline. The second NB Furbish's Lousewort area is much more open and consequently more exposed to sunlight. Most of the plants are growing on lumps of earth that have been eroded from the edge of the forested bank and carried some distance toward the bed of the river. The soil here is more gravelly and there are numerous small boulders strewn about. In the third area, the plants are growing on the east bank of a railway cut through a hill, and are situated more than 0.4 km from the river. The soil is sandy-gravel, well drained, and not as moist as in the other two areas. The plants are in the shade for most of the day.



Furbish's Lousewort reproduces exclusively by seeds. In Canada, flowering occurs from the beginning of July to the end of August. The flowers of Furbish's Lousewort are pollinated by bumblebees. The seeds drop beneath the parent plant or close to it. The seedlings grow under or close to the parent plant, thus forming colonies around mature plants.



A large amount of Furbish's Lousewort habitat has been lost over the past 50 years and will likely continue to be lost. Nevertheless, there is ample potential habitat for the plant that it is not colonizing naturally. Garbage dumps, litter, gravel pit operations and forestry practices along the river banks are likely having an impact on habitat quality.



Federal Protection

The Furbish's Lousewort is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

The Furbish's Lousewort is protected by New Brunswick's Endangered Species Act. Under this Act, it is prohibited to kill, harm, or collect this species, or to disturb its habitat.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Furbish's Lousewort (Pedicularis furbishiae) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

Furbish's Lousewort - Contact for NB DNR: Maureen Toner

  • Maureen Toner - Chair/Contact - Government of New Brunswick
    Phone: 506-453-2440  Fax: 506-453-6699  Send Email


Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date A recovery team has been initiated for Furbish’s Lousewort. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities A significant amount of research has been conducted on Furbish’s Lousewort in Maine, and the results of these studies are generally applicable to the Canadian populations. Monitoring of Canadian Furbish’s Lousewort populations has increased over the past five years, with an annual census conducted at most sites. From 2002 to 2003, the Nature Trust of New Brunswick partnered with the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre to conduct surveys for rare plants, including Furbish’s Lousewort, along the Upper Saint John River. These surveys led to the discovery of two new populations of this species along the river. A 2004 survey of threats to shoreline plants between Grand Falls and Perth Andover found that the majority of the shoreline remains in exemplary quality, but that roads, trails, gravel pits, fields and lawns have compromised the ecological integrity of 42% of the shoreline. Summary of Recovery Activities In 1990, several not-for-profit organizations collaborated to create the George Stirret Nature Preserve, a protected area around the habitat of one population of Furbish’s Lousewort. Most Furbish’s Louseworts and other rare plants along the Upper St. Johns River occur on private lands; therefore, private landowner stewardship is vitally important. Having surveyed the river’s flora, the Nature Trust contacted landowners with rare plants and rare plant communities on their properties to encourage and support stewardship practices (e.g., limiting human traffic to designated trails, maintaining tree buffers along the water). This has resulted in 15 voluntary private landowner stewardship agreements. The Nature Trust maintains a web site with information about Furbish’s Lousewort and other rare flora of the Upper St. Johns River: www.naturetrust.nb.ca. URLshttp://www.naturetrust.nb.ca/


PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

6 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Furbish's Lousewort (2011-12-08)

    This plant exists at low numbers in a dynamic and restricted habitat along the Saint John River in New Brunswick. Changes to river dynamics, land clearing of buffer trees, recreational activities, and the introduction of invasive species have resulted in continuing population decline at the existing sites.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Furbish's Lousewort (Pedicularis furbishiae) in Canada (2010-06-23)

    The Furbish's Lousewort was listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) at proclamation, in June 2003. It was initially assessed and designated as Endangered by the Committee on the status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 1980. COSEWIC re-examined and re-confirmed the Furbish's Lousewort Endangered status in April 1998 and May 2000. SARA section 37 requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for all listed extirpated, endangered, or threatened species. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The New Brunswick Ministry of Natural Resources led the development of this recovery strategy for the species in cooperation with Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Atlantic Region. All responsible jurisdictions reviewed and provided support for posting this recovery strategy. In the spirit of cooperation of the Accord, the Government of New Brunswick has given permission to the Government of Canada to adopt the Recovery Strategy for Furbish’s Lousewort (Pedicularis furbishiae) in New Brunswick (Appendix 2) under Section 44 of the Species at Risk Act. Environment Canada has included an addition which completes the SARA requirements for this recovery strategy, and excludes the section on Socio-Economic Considerations which is not required by the Act.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011-09-09)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

Residence Description

  • Residence Rationale - Furbish's Lousewort (2007-01-02)

    Individual Furbish's Lousewort plants do not appear to use a dwelling place similar to a nest or den, and therefore do not qualify for having a residence. There would be no additional legal protection not already afforded by protection of the individual and its critical habitat.
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