Species Profile

Wild Hyacinth

Scientific Name: Camassia scilloides
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2002
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: Met criteria for Endangered, B1ab(ii,iii,iv)+2ab(ii,iii,iv), but designated Threatened because population sizes have remained approximately the same in spite of significant losses due to comorant and development.
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This species is present at only 6 island sites within a highly restricted and limited habitat subject to significant risks from cormorants and continued land development.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Special Concern in April 1990. Re-examined and designated Threatened in May 2002.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2005-01-12

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 Wild Hyacinth

Wild Hyacinth Photo 1
Wild Hyacinth Photo 2



Wild Hyacinth is a showy, spring-flowering, bulbous plant of the lily family. It has star-shaped flowers that are blue, bluish-purple or white, with six petals and bright yellow anthers (the male part of the flower that produces pollen). The flowers grow in clusters of 5 to 100 (typically 15 to 35) at the top of a 25- to 70-cm flowering stalk, which is surrounded by small thin leaves at its base. Different colours of flowers can be found within the same population.


Distribution and Population

The Wild Hyacinth is found from the southwestern United States through the Mississippi valley to the Great Lakes basin. It reaches the extreme northern edge of its range on the Lake Erie islands in Ontario within Essex County. There are currently six known populations of Wild Hyacinth in Canada. Estimates in 1998 and 2001 revealed that five populations are large - they contain between 2000 and 5000 or more individuals each - and are apparently stable. A sixth population has been reduced to 15% of its previous size, and an additional population has recently been lost. Both of these populations have declined as a result of damage caused by droppings deposited by nesting cormorants (see "Threats" below). Two other populations occurred in Ontario, but they were lost to housing development.



This plant grows in deciduous forests and in hawthorn scrubs, where soil is rich in organic matter but where limestone bedrock is close to the surface. The Wild Hyacinth needs a long growing season as well as a hot climate that is humid during the spring and dry during the summer.



The Wild Hyacinth flowers in mid-spring when pollinating insects are abundant. By mid-summer the flowers have faded and the stalks lie on the ground. By late summer they are completely obscured by surrounding vegetation. Wild Hyacinths typically multiply by seed, but they can also be grown from bulbs. Seed pods on the flower stalks split open, releasing the seeds in the immediate vicinity of the parent plant. The seeds are apparently not attractive to insects, such as ants, that would take the seeds further away. The plants grow in quite dense clusters, and it is not known what mechanism initiates a new colony. Individual plants usually live longer than twenty years, and colonies are made up of plants of mixed ages. The starchy bulbs are edible and were likely used as a source of food by native people and early European settlers.



The Wild Hyacinth is vulnerable to loss of habitat to housing and cottage development. One population has recently been lost and another significantly affected by large colonies of nesting cormorants. These cormorant colonies have increased dramatically in recent years and are having a direct impact on the habitat. The cormorants are killing much of the vegetation (including the trees where they nest), and their nutrient-rich excrement supports a dense weed population.



Federal Protection

The Wild Hyacinth 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

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 Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

Carolinian Woodland Plants Recovery Team

  • Jarmo Jalava - Chair/Contact - Other
    Phone: 705-760-2823  Send Email



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.

10 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Wild Hyacinth (2004-04-21)

    A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides) in Canada (2019-01-31)

    The Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency is the competent minister under SARA for the Wild Hyacinth and has prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. 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 Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the Wild Hyacinth (Part 2) in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Parks Canada Agency. The Province of Ontario also led the development of the attached Government Response Statement (Part 3), which is the Ontario Government’s policy response to its provincial recovery strategy and summarizes the prioritized actions that the Ontario government intends to take and support.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (2016-07-05)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the two sites: Point Pelee National Park of Canada (PPNP) and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (NNHS). The NNHS is being used as a term to collectively refer to two locations in the Niagara region that consist of three National Historic Sites: Fort George National Historic Site, Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, and Butler’s Barracks National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at PPNP and at NNHS.


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (2004-04-21)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 139, number 2, 2005) (2005-01-12)

    Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), is amended by Order of the Governor in Council (GIC), on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, by the addition of 73 species. This Order is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and follows consultations with provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the public, and analysis of costs and benefits to Canadians.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: March 2004 (2004-03-03)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.

Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016-07-06)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update December 2, 2021
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