Species Profile

Howell's Triteleia

Scientific Name: Triteleia howellii
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2003
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(ii,iii,iv,v)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This is a geographically highly restricted species with a small population occurring at a few scattered sites within remnant Garry oak habitats. It is located within a highly urbanized region with on-going risks to the species from such factors as habitat loss, competition with invasive species, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and competition with invasive species.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2003.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
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: | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents


Howell's Triteleia is one of three native species in Canada belonging to the lily family. It is a perennial herb that grows from an underground stem structure, similar to a bulb, called a corm. The flower stalk is 20 to 50 cm tall with one or two smooth and slender leaves, 20 to 40 cm long and 3 to 8 mm wide, at the base. The 3-to-4-cm-long flowers are formed from six whitish to blue, narrowly bell-shaped segments. The segments are fused at the base and spread into two petal-shaped whorls. The fruit is an egg-shaped capsule containing black, rounded seeds.


Distribution and Population

Howell’s Triteleia ranges from southwestern British Columbia to northern California in the United States. It is only known from 12 sites in Canada, all of which are located on southeastern Vancouver Island. Nine of these 12 sites have been confirmed since 1997. The status of the plants at the remaining three sites is unknown and the populations may be extirpated. At the nine existing sites, population areas range from small (1 m²) to over three or four hectares, while plant numbers range from a single plant to over 450.



Howell's Triteleia occurs in the Garry Oak woodland — a unique ecosystem in Canada found within a limited habitat type, the Coastal Douglas-fir zone. This zone encompasses southeastern Vancouver Island, several islands in the Gulf of Georgia and a narrow strip of adjacent mainland in British Columbia. It is in a rainshadow belt created by the Olympic and Vancouver Island mountains — resulting in a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. More specifically, Howell's Triteleia grows in Garry Oak Quercus garryana woodlands, and in highly disturbed sites dominated by weeds in private yards and on roadsides.



There is little known about the biology of Howell's Triteleia throughout its range. Reproduction is through division of the corm, by the production of numerous cormlets, and by seed. The bulb-like corms of this species are edible and, like other related species, may have been used by native peoples as a food source.



The most direct and immediate threat to Triteleia howellii is habitat destruction. The Garry Oak communities are limited to the southeastern side of Vancouver Island and some of the Gulf Islands, and have been heavily urbanized. The suppression of fire and the spread of introductions has also been a limiting factor. One of the most devastating introduced species is Scotch Broom Cytisus scoparius; it has become a dominant shrub on dry, exposed sites throughout much of southeastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Furthermore, dispersal into new sites is likely limited and some of the populations of Howell's Triteleia contain very few plants.



Federal Protection

The Howell's Triteleia 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 nine confirmed populations of Howell's Triteleia occur in regional and municipal parks, as well as on private properties.

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


Recovery Team

Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team

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

8 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on Howell’s triteleia Triteleia howellii in Canada (2003-05-01)

    Howell's triteleia, Triteleia howellii (S. Wats.) Greene, is a member of a genus of 14 species in the Liliaceae in North America. Three species occur in British Columbia and Canada. Triteleia howellii is a perennial herb from a deep, straw-coloured, fibrous-scaly, nearly globe-shaped, bulb-like corm. The erect, flowering stem is 20-50 cm tall with one or two smooth, slender, linear basal leaves. The leaves are 20-40 cm long, 3-8 mm wide, sheathed at the base and have entire margins. The flowers consist of six whitish to blue, vase-shaped to narrowly bell-shaped, fused segments forming a 1.5-2 cm long tube. The corolla lobes, which are about as long as the tube, are in two, spreading, petal-like whorls. The outer three are broadly lanceolate, the inner three are oblong-egg-shaped and all are slightly ruffled. The fruit consists of a stalked, egg-shaped capsule containing black, rounded seeds.

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Howell's Triteleia (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 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).


  • 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.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • 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-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: 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.
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