Species Profile

Yellow Montane Violet praemorsa subspecies

Scientific Name: Viola praemorsa ssp. praemorsa
Other/Previous Names: Yellow Montane Violet
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2007
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: The subspecies is only known in Canada from southeastern Vancouver Island and the adjacent southern Gulf Islands where it occurs as 14 mainly small, localized populations that are highly fragmented. This short-lived perennial is restricted to Garry oak woodlands and maritime meadows where habitat is continuing to decline in quality due to such factors as the spread of exotic invasive grasses as well as the spread of trees and shrubs as a result of fire suppression.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in April 1995. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2007.
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: | Taxonomy | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Yellow Montane Violet praemorsa subspecies

Yellow Montane Violet praemorsa subspecies Photo 1

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Taxonomy

There are two subspecies of Yellow Montane Violet in Canada: Viola praemorsa ssp. praemorsa and Viola praemorsa ssp. linguifolia. The species is represented in British Columbia only by the praemorsa subspecies.

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Description

The praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet is a small perennial herb measuring 5 to 20 cm tall. The short stem may be leafless or it may have a few reduced leaves. The dark green basal leaves are densely or sparsely hairy. They measure 2 to 10 cm long and 1 to 3.5 cm wide and are borne on leaf stalks 3 to 15 cm long. The leaves are oval with slightly toothed margins. The praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet produces two types of flowers: open flowers with five petals and closed flowers with no petals. The flowers with petals are yellow. The lowest petal is pencilled with brownish-purple markings and is spurred at the base. The lateral petals are bearded and the two upper petals, which are slightly smaller than the lower petals, tend to be brownish on the back. The flowers without petals are borne on short stalks near the base of the shoot and often escape notice. Both types of flowers mature into capsules, dry fruit 6 to 11 mm long containing several dark brown seeds.

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Distribution and Population

The range of the Yellow Montane Violet extends from Vancouver Island to California, chiefly west of the Cascade Mountains. In British Columbia, the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet is found only along the southeastern coast of Vancouver Island and on adjacent islands in the Strait of Georgia. There are 14 extant populations in Canada and, based on recent data, there were between 32 000 and 49 000 flowering plants in British Columbia in 2007, with about 80 to 90% of the Canadian population of the praemorsa subspecies of the Yelllow Montane Violet concentrated in two populations. The number of populations has been in slow decline; five have disappeared, but none have been lost since the late 1990s.

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Habitat

In British Columbia, the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet occurs in Garry oak woodlands and maritime meadows. Most microhabitats occupied by the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet have shallow soils over bedrock, little or no shrub cover, and an abundant cover of herbaceous species. These habitats are on relatively level ground or on south-facing slopes. The praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet is shade-intolerant. The amount of potential habitat has decreased greatly over the past century as coastal areas in southeastern Vancouver Island have been developed for residential and recreational use. Most of the remaining habitat has been heavily altered by the invasion of exotic grasses and shrubs.

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Biology

Few data are available on the biology of the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet. In Canada, the leaves emerge early in the spring. Shoot dormancy begins to break in March when the soil begins to warm up with the spring weather. Plants are fully leafed out by late April or early May. The flowers that are open (for cross-pollination) bloom in late April and May, and the closed flowers (which are self-pollinated) bloom somewhat later. The praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet is probably pollinated by the same species that pollinate closely related violets: flies, butterflies, solitary (non-colonial) bees and thrips. The foliage begins to wither by mid- to late June and the shoots die back by mid- to late July as the summer drought deepens. Fruit dispersal occurs as the desiccating capsules rupture abruptly, sending the seeds out as far as 1 m. Fruit dispersal occurs in June and July, and all seeds are released by late July. The seeds are hard and shiny and bear a fatty outgrowth that attracts ants, which carry the seeds slightly further from the parent plant. Seed production is vital for this violet, as this is its only means of reproduction (the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet is incapable of clonal growth or asexual reproduction).

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Threats

Habitat destruction is the most immediate and direct threat to several populations of the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet. Exotic plants can eliminate native plants by reducing access to light, and competition from plants introduced from Europe is also endangering this violet. Scotch broom, a highly invasive shrub, poses one of the greatest threats to the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet and its habitat. The impacts of invasive species, particularly exotic grasses, and altered fire regimes pose the greatest threats to the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet. The absence of frequent burning (practised in the past by First Nations to stimulate the growth of food plants) has changed the vegetation structure, which now favours shrub and tree species that were held in check by fire. At some sites, a fire-intolerant native shrub appears to have expanded into most of the habitat formerly available to the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet. Trampling damage has affected a significant portion of some populations that are concentrated along footpaths. Several populations of the praemorsa subspecies of the Yellow Montane Violet are threatened simply by their small size and area of occupancy, which predisposes them to stochastic events. Six populations have 50 or fewer mature plants.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Yellow Montane Violet praemorsa subspecies 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.

In British Columbia, the species is not protected under any provincial legislation. Of the fourteen extant populations in Canada, seven are in municipal and/or regional parks, where they are protected from development but face major threats from park users. Three populations are in provincial parks or ecological reserves, where they receive some protection and recreational activities tend to be less intensive. Two populations are on land owned by conservation organizations, which provide a high degree of protection, including measures to control invasive species and counteract the impacts of fire exclusion. One of the Saltspring populations extends onto federal lands, which are protected under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Provincial and Territorial Protection

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

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for Multi-species at Risk in Garry Oak Woodlands in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team

  • Conan Webb - Chair/Contact - Parks Canada
    Phone: 250-478-5153  Send Email

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Documents

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.

11 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Yellow Montane Violet, praemorsa subspecies, Viola praemorsa ssp. praemorsa, in Canada (2008-08-28)

    Yellow montane violet (Viola praemorsa ssp. praemorsa) is a hairy, perennial herb with egg-shaped to lance-shaped basal leaves and a short stem that is leafless or bears a few reduced leaves. Its showy, yellow flowers are borne singly at the end of long stalks which emerge from the axils of leaves. Yellow montane violet also produces less conspicuous cleistogamous flowers, which lack showy petals and are borne on short stalks near the base of the shoot. In both conventional and cleistogamous flowers, the ovary ripens into a dry, 6-11 mm long capsule containing several dark-brown seeds.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Yellow Montane Violet praemorsa subspecies (2008-11-26)

    The subspecies is only known in Canada from southeastern Vancouver Island and the adjacent southern Gulf Islands where it occurs as 14 mainly small, localized populations that are highly fragmented. This short-lived perennial is restricted to Garry oak woodlands and maritime meadows where habitat is continuing to decline in quality due to such factors as the spread of exotic invasive grasses as well as the spread of trees and shrubs as a result of fire suppression.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Garry Oak Woodlands in Canada (2016-11-04)

    This strategy has been developed under the broader Recovery Strategy for Garry Oak and Associated Ecosystems and their Associated Species at Risk in Canada: 2001-2006 (GOERT 2002) to address the recovery of five plant species at risk that occur within Garry oak (Quercus garryana) woodland habitat: deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea), white-top aster (Sericocarpus rigidus), small-flowered tonella (Tonella tenella), Howell's triteleia (Triteleia howellii), and yellow montane violet (Viola praemorsa ssp. praemorsa).

Orders

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 - 2008 (2008-08-28)

    2008 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#16), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-05-12)

    The SAR at each site occurs in open meadows that are being encroached by Scotch broom, English ivy, gorse, English holly, Daphne spurge, thistles and/or conifers. Our goal is to remove the invading species from the area adjacent to the selected subpopulations. Invasive removal will likely increase habitat availability and prevent future competition, should these invasive species invade further into the meadow. Also, elimination of competition is hypothesized to increase plant vigour, seed production, and over time, population size.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#FRH-2016-21599-SARA ), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2016-06-01)

    Parks Canada will collect seeds or other propagules, grow plants in a nursery, prepare and maintain translocation sites and out-plant the resulting stock to suitable sites at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and or Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site to increase populations of a number of species at risk in coastal sand dune and Garry Oak ecosystems, as per the recovery strategies for the species.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2007-0050), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2007-05-08)

    In order to protect a suite of SARA Schedule 1 plants at risk from habitat degradation at various federal properties, invasive species will be removed from the area adjacent to sub-populations of these species at risk by pulling by hand or manually cutting. Invasion of exotic species has been identified as a serious and increasing threat to these sub-populations. The invasive species biomass will be removed from the sites. Removal of invasive plants is believed to increase habitat availability for plants at risk, prevent future competition, as well as increase plant vigour, seed production and population size.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2008-0079), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2008-04-15)

    Pollination is an essential ecosystem service, and this project will help to determine whether the pollination needs of rare plants are being met. The project involves an intensive study of plant-pollinator interactions at a single, well-characterized site. The level of pollen limitation and the degree of autofertility will be evaluated in several species of wildflowers, including three plant species at risk, Triteleia howellii, Viola praemorsa spp. praemorsa, and Sericocarpus rigidus. All insect visitors to specific plant species will be collected during walking transects of ten minutes. Three to four transects per species will be completed for each sample date. A plant-pollinator interaction web will be built, and should have no direct impact on species at risk.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species (2009-01-30)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by March 20, 2009 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 19, 2010 for species undergoing extended consultations.
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