Species Profile


Scientific Name: Buchnera americana
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2011
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered

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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 Bluehearts

Bluehearts Photo 1



The Bluehearts is a perennial plant that reaches heights between 40 and 80 cm. The stem is unbranched and hairy with leaves that are opposite and sessile (without a stalk). The Bluehearts is generally parasitic, growing on the roots of a variety of trees, but it is not restricted to a parasitic lifestyle. In Ontario, the Bluehearts flowers from mid-July to early September. The flowers grow at the top of the plant and form a spike of deep purple, stemless flowers. Fruits are oblong in shape and about 7 mm long.


Distribution and Population

The Bluehearts is found in North America in 11 states from Ohio and Indiana to Georgia and Missouri, with the greatest numbers occurring in Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Missouri. It is considered to be extirpated from Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey and has a historical range throughout the district of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, and New York. In six southern states, the status of this species is unknown. In Canada, the Bluehearts only occurs along a 10 km stretch of Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario. Its range has not changed since 1981. Currently, there are six extant (existing) populations of the Bluehearts found in Ontario. Based on the 1997 surveys, the number of plants in all extant populations totalled 553 individuals. The species has become extirpated from 2 previously known populations since 1981 due to housing developments in these areas.



The Bluehearts prefers moist sandy soils in open woods and prairies. In Ontario, the species can be found along the edges of wet depressions between sand dunes. Other species that thrive in these conditions and are often found in the same areas as the Bluehearts are: Butterfly Milkweed, Indian Grass, Little Bluestem, and Big Bluestem.



The Bluehearts is a hemiparasite, which means it is partially parasitic but is not restricted to this mode of life, and can mature without parasitic attachment. This species has been found growing on the roots of the Eastern White Pine, Green Ash, Cottonwood, White Oak and others. In large numbers, the Bluehearts has been known to damage small trees and during periods of stress such as drought conditions, the effects of this hemiparasite on its host are heightened. The small seeds of this species require light to germinate and are viable in soil for two to three years. It is unknown whether or not self-fertilization is possible to set seed.



Fluctuation of water levels plays an important role in the maintenance of the open habitat preferred by the Bluehearts. A major limiting factor to the continued existence of the species is the decrease in natural interdunal habitat due to development for housing and cottages. In addition, recreational activities pose an increasing threat to the survival of the species.



Federal Protection

The Bluehearts 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 Bluehearts (Buchnera americana) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

Bluehearts Recovery Team

  • Chris Risley - Chair/Contact - Government of Ontario
    Phone: 705-755-1838  Fax: 705-755-1788  Send Email


Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date Bluehearts populations at the Pinery, one of Ontario’s Provincial Parks, fluctuate widely in individual plant numbers from year to year. Based on annual monitoring, it appears that the numbers of Bluehearts within the park are decreasing. Recreational activities have been a documented threat to these plants and their habitat (i.e. wet meadow communities) for over two decades and continue to be a threat today. As well, succession by woody plants, particularly Eastern White Cedar, within the erected protection exclosures is a possible threat to Bluehearts and active management of the sites may be required. Increased monitoring of the Bluehearts populations within Pinery and the status of wet meadows is definitely required. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities Within Pinery, Bluehearts populations are surveyed each year and have been since 1980. Individual plants are counted and GPS locations are taken for both individual plants that are isolated and numerous plants that are grouped together. Results from each year’s monitoring are documented and stored with results from previous years so that long term trends for Pinery’s population of Bluehearts may be observed. Summary of Recovery Activities Bluehearts at Pinery are protected from development, and two fenced exclosures were erected around the major populations in the 1980’s. One interpretive sign was designed and placed inside the exclosure to educate park visitors about the plant and its status. URLs Ontario Species at Risk: Blue Hearts:http://www.rom.on.ca/ontario/risk.php?doc_type=fact&id=51 Ontario Parks: The Pinery:http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/pine.html


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 the Bluehearts Buchnera americana in Canada (2012)

    Bluehearts (Buchnera americana) is a hemiparasitic herbaceous vascular plant ranging in height from 40 to 80 cm; plants are usually unbranched, have hairy stems and stalkless, opposite leaves. A flowering spike of deep purple, stalkless flowers is produced at the top of the plant. In Ontario, flowering begins in mid-July and lasts until September. Fruits are oblong capsules about 7 mm long.
  • COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Bluehearts Buchnera americana in Canada (2000)

    Bluehearts is a perennial ranging in height from 40 to 80 cm; plants are usually unbranched, have hairy stems and sessile, opposite leaves. A flowering spike of deep purple, stalkless flowers is produced at the top of the plant. In Ontario, flowering begins in mid-July and lasts until early September. Fruits are oblong capsules about 7 mm long. The species is hemiparasitic on a variety of deciduous and coniferous trees, being linked to the root system of these by way of haustorial attachments.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment - Bluehearts (2000)

    Designated Threatened in April 1985. Status re-examined and uplisted to Endangered in April 1998. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000. The May 2000 asessment was based on new quantitative criteria applied to information from the existing 1998 status report.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Bluehearts (2013)

    A hemiparasitic herbaceous plant which grows in three small populations within the Great Lakes sand dunes habitat in southwestern Ontario. Its small population size and threats associated with water-level changes, disruption of natural process including fire suppression, recreational activities, and invasive plants places the species at on-going risk.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Bluehearts (Buchnera americana) in Canada (2014)

    The Minister of the Environment is the competent minister for the recovery of Bluehearts and has prepared this strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with the Province of Ontario, the Department of National Defence and the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2011-2012 (2012)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (September 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012) from November 21 to 25, 2011 and from April 29 to May 4, 2012. On February 3, 2012, an Emergency Assessment Subcommittee of COSEWIC also assessed the status of the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus), the Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), and the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis). During the current reporting period COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 67 wildlife species. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2011-2012 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 1 Extirpated: 4 Endangered: 29 Threatened: 10 Special Concern: 15 Data Deficient: 2 Not at Risk: 6 Total: 67 Of the 67 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 49 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment (see Table 1a).

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2012 (2013)

    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 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. Consultation paths.


  • Public Registry Notice for s.83 Exceptions - Former Camp Ipperwash (2015)

    As per the Memorandum of Understanding between DND, Environment Canada, and the Parks Canada Agency: 6.1 c) Activities occurring on Defence Establishments that are considered necessary for public safety in accordance with paragraph a) and authorized under the National Defence Act and the Explosives Act are: Remediation of contaminated sites; and Securing, handling, destruction or disposal of unsafe munitions, including unexploded explosive ordnance.