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Small Whorled Pogonia (Isotria medeoloides)

Recovery Strategy for the Small Whorled Pogonia

(Isotria medeoloides) in Canada

  May 2007



Small whorled pogonia

           Photo: Glen D. Martin

Recovery Strategy for the Small Whorled Pogonia

(Isotria medeoloides) in Canada


May 2007




Under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996), the federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to work together on legislation, programs, and policies to protect wildlife species at risk throughout Canada.

In the spirit of cooperation of the Accord, the Government of Ontario has given permission to the Government of Canada to adopt the Recovery Strategy for the Small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides) in Canada under Section 44 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Details are provided in the addenda of this document.

This recovery strategy is the recovery strategy of the Minister of the Environment of Canada for this species.

May 2007

Recommended citation:

McConnell, A. 2007. Recovery Strategy for the Small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides) in Canada.  13 pp.


Additional copies:  

Additional copies can be downloaded from the SARA Public Registry (

Cover illustration: Glen D. Martin

Également disponible en français sous le titre

« Programme de rétablissement de l'isotrie fausse-médéole (Isotria medeoloides) au Canada»

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.



Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

Canadian Wildlife Service


This recovery strategy was developed by Angela McConnell, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario.  The first draft Recovery Strategy was developed by Tony Difazio, Catfish Creek Conservation Authority in 2003.


This strategy utilizes information from the first draft strategy which was developed by Tony Difazio (2003), Catfish Creek Conservation Authority and which was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

Many thanks to Ric Wellwood for providing information on the occurrence within Calton Swamp and for reviewing the document.


The Small whorled pogonia is under the management jurisdiction of the Ontario provincial government.  The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered or threatened species. The Small whorled pogonia was listed as Endangered under SARA in June 2003.  The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario, Environment Canada worked in cooperation to develop this Recovery Strategy.  All responsible jurisdictions reviewed and acknowledged receipt of the strategy. The strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39-41).  This recovery strategy was developed in consultation with the Catfish Creek Conservation Authority.  


Small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides) is a small orchid which inhabits portions of eastern North America, and has been found in only one location in Canada.  It was designated as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) in 2000. Little is understood about the specific biological requirements of this species which grows in the damp mixed woods of Calton Swamp.

The only known occurrence of Small whorled pogonia is located on Catfish Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA) property but the species has not been seen since 1998.  It is unknown whether the species is extirpated or is still present in low numbers. Two known threats to this population are habitat degradation and trampling.  Other possible threats include herbivory, collection, and loss of genetic diversity.

The recovery of Small whorled pogonia is considered feasible.  The recovery goal is to protect extant populations and viable habitat to ensure a self sustaining population exists within the historical Canadian range.  Recovery objectives are:

1.     Survey and, if extant, monitor individual plants within the area of the four recorded historical subpopulations.

2.     Determine population dynamics and habitat characteristics of the Calton Swamp colony.

3.     Develop strategies for the protection of the population and supporting habitat.

4.     Investigate techniques and feasibility of augmenting the extant population or restoring the species to historic locations if it is deemed to be extirpated.

5.     Initiate research to address knowledge gaps

Identification of critical habitat for this species is being deferred to the action plan stage.

A number of specific actions and evaluation methods are also outlined in this strategy.

This recovery approach will not have any anticipated negative effects on other species in the area.

An action plan will be developed for Small whorled pogonia by 2011, dependent on the capacity of the lead agencies to complete the plan.

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