Species Profile

Tall Woolly-heads

Scientific Name: Psilocarphus elatior
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: April 2018
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1abc(iii,v)+2abc(iii,v)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This small annual plant only occurs in a few, small, specialized habitats on southeastern Vancouver Island. Habitat destruction and modification at one site has resulted in significant decline in the Canadian population. Competition from invasive species and management of drainage are the primary continuing threats; other threats include recreational activities, habitat disruption by non-native resident Canada Geese, and haying/mowing.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2001.  Status re-examined and confirmed in April 2018.
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 Tall Woolly-heads

Tall Woolly-heads Photo 1

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Description

Tall Woolly-heads is an erect woolly annual, 1-15 cm tall. Its branched stems are woolly-hairy with opposite, moderately silky-hairy, entire leaves. One or several spherical flower heads are clustered in the forks of stems or at their tips and are up to 6 mm tall. The cylindrical, glabrous (hairless) fruits are 1.0-1.7 mm long.

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Distribution and Population

The species occurs in southwestern British Columbia, southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan in Canada, and ranges south through Idaho, Washington and Oregon to northern California. The Pacific population is restricted to southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia.The species still occurs at six of the eleven known sites in BC. Four of these sites have been confirmed since 1993.

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Habitat

The species inhabits dried beds of vernal (spring) pools and other open, moist, often disturbed sites in the coastal Douglas fir zone at elevations below 1000 m. The climate of the this zone consists of mild wet winters and warm dry summers. Tall Woolly-heads typically occupies open, exposed sites that are usually seasonally flooded after a rapid snow melt. The locations are often level, although generally slightly depressed. The species is not found within particular communities and often occupies sites where other species are sparse. There does not appear to be any specific association with other plants.

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Biology

Little information exists regarding the biology of the species. Lack of structures attractive to insects and animals, and an interpretation of the floral structure, indicates that the species may self-pollinate. However, pollen may not be essential for seed production, and asexual reproduction may also occur.

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Threats

Habitat destruction is the greatest threat to existing populations of Tall Woolly-heads. In BC, sites where the species occurs are either subjected to heavy pedestrian trampling or are at risk from development. One Tall Woolly-heads site is located in Uplands Municipal Park, but the status of the population in Francis-King Regional Park is unknown. Maintenance of footpaths and mountain-biking in both parks have been destroying surrounding vegetation. The population at Somenos Lake would likely be eliminated if the water level were lowered for agricultural purposes. Threats to the continued survival of Tall Woolly-heads are compounded by the lack of biological and ecological information, which makes it difficult to manage sites for the species.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Tall Woolly-heads 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.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Vernal Pools and other Ephemeral Wet Areas Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems 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.

5 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Tall Woolly-heads (Psilocarphus elatior) in Canada (2019-03-06)

    Tall Woolly-heads is a small, annual herb rarely growing more than 10 cm tall in Canada. It is green to silvery green when young and silvery grey when mature. It is generally covered with a dense mat of silky-woolly hairs. Its upper leaves densely cup the flower heads. The small, globular flower heads (6-8 mm in diameter) are arranged on a dome-like structure called the receptacle. The individual flowers lack obvious petals and are tightly clustered; thus the entire head appears to be a single flower. Each female flower is enclosed within a sac-like hood around the flower. Note: This COSEWIC assessment was received by the Minister on October 15th, 2018.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Tall Woolly-heads (2019-01-11)

    This small annual plant only occurs in a few, small, specialized habitats on southeastern Vancouver Island. Habitat destruction and modification at one site has resulted in significant decline in the Canadian population. Competition from invasive species and management of drainage are the primary continuing threats; other threats include recreational activities, habitat disruption by non-native resident Canada Geese, and haying/mowing.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Vernal Pools and other Ephemeral Wet Areas Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada (2016-11-04)

    This multi-species Recovery Strategy has been developed to address the recovery of plants at risk in vernal pools and other temporally wet habitats on southern Vancouver Island and adjacent Gulf Islands. The strategy focuses on all Canadian locations of six species: bog birds-foot trefoil (Lotus pinnatus), tall woolly-heads (Psilocarphus elatior, Pacific population), water-plantain buttercup (Ranunculus alismifolius var. alismifolius), Kellogg's rush (Juncus kelloggii), rosy owl-clover (Orthocarpus bracteosus), and dwarf sandwort (Minuartia pusilla).

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report 2017 to 2018 (2018-10-15)

    Over the past year COSEWIC assessed a total of 90 wildlife species and 11 of these were assigned a status of Not at Risk. Of these 90, COSEWIC re-examined the status of 38 wildlife species; of these, the majority (87%) were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 771 wildlife species in various risk categories including 338 Endangered, 183 Threatened, 228 Special Concern, and 22 Extirpated (i.e. no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 18 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, and a total of 59 wildlife species have also been designated as Data Deficient and 197 have been assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species January 2019 (2019-01-15)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection afforded by the prohibitions and from recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 580 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments by May 13, 2019, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 14, 2019, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry website at: The Minister of the Environment's Response to Species at Risk Assessments.
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