White Prairie Gentian
Scientific Name: Gentiana alba
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2010
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii); D1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation:
This showy perennial exists in Canada as a single small population within a remnant oak savannah habitat in southwestern Ontario. The small population size and impacts from potential threats such as increased shading, trampling, and genetic contamination through hybridization with a common native species of gentian, places the species at on-going risk.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in April 1991. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2001 and November 2010.
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.
Image of White Prairie Gentian
The White Prairie Gentian is an herbaceous perennial which often sprawls. Its leaves are oval, large and yellowish-green. The flowering stems measure from 30 to 90 cm; the flowers occur in dense clusters at the top of the stem. In Ontario, new flowers are usually greenish-white.
Distribution and Population
The main range of the species is centred in the plains of the U.S. Midwest. In Canada, the extant population of the White Prairie Gentian is restricted to Walpole Island, in the delta of the St. Clair River, in Lambton County, southern Ontario. A survey in 2000 inventoried a total of 45 individual plants in three sites on Walpole Island. This is an increase of 26 plants over the 19 inventoried in 1989. However, in 1989, one of the sites supported only two plants which has now been reduced to one.
The White Prairie Gentian is found in oak-hickory savannahs, and prefers well drained, calcareous soils or limestone; it is usually found in areas that are frequently disturbed by fire. The White Prairie Gentian is associated with tall grass prairie species, and does not like shade.
In Ontario, the White Prairie Gentian flowers from mid-August to late September. Small plants (those under 20 cm) have few or no flowers, while the large plants have up to 10 flowering stems. The White Prairie Gentian is pollinated almost exclusively by bumble bees. In the fall, the fruit splits in two and releases hundreds of tiny seeds which are dispersed by the wind.
Loss of habitat is the main limiting factor for the White Prairie Gentian in Canada. Habitat is lost through activities such as quarrying of sandpits, home construction, development of a landfill, a cemetery, and agriculture, expansion of roads and trails and ATV traffic. The control of fires by man can also limit the populations of White Prairie Gentians, since the control of fire permits the growth of shrubs and trees, which create shade; White Prairie Gentians do not survive in shaded areas.
The White Prairie Gentian 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.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the White Prairie Gentian (Gentiana alba) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry
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 (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Permits and Related Agreements (2 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
Response Statement - White Prairie Gentian (2011-12-08)This showy perennial exists in Canada as a single small population within a remnant oak savannah habitat in southwestern Ontario. The small population size and impacts from potential threats such as increased shading, trampling, and genetic contamination through hybridization with a common native species of gentian, places the species at on-going risk.
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.