W.P. Fraser Herbarium (SASK)
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan
51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada     S7N 5A8
U of S

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The Rare Native Vascular Plants of Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan is home to many vascular plants. In fact, the province has 367 rare species, including 135 endangered (Harms, 2003) and seven endemic taxa. The W. P. Fraser Herbarium rare plant database (RPD) contains a list of approximately 10,000 provincially rare (presumed extinct, endangered, threatened, and most “species of concern” and provincial “candidate”) species. No other research institution has such comprehensive information on geographic, taxonomic coverage, and plant rarity status of Saskatchewan flora. SASK Herbarium conducts rare plants surveys upon request. These surveys may be based on a geographic area and/or a taxonomic entity. Please contact us if you are interested in information regarding a rare species.

Rare plants represent pat of our natural heritage. Habitat fragmentation, among other factors, is a major threat to wild plant communities. Many plant species are susceptible to habitat disturbances as they alter the ecosystem integrity, affecting a wide range of wild animal and plant species. Numerous species are rare not only in population number(s) but also because they contain unique genetic make-up and/or low levels of heterozygosity. In many instances, the populations may be genetically depauperate. The preservation and management of rare/endangered species is vital in conservation biology.

The W.P. Fraser Herbarium is committed to increasing our knowledge of biodiversity and rare plants in Saskatchewan. The rare plants of Saskatchewan are being studied extensively by faculty and staff at SASK.

Some of the resulting publications available are:

  • Cota-Sánchez, J. H. 2002. Taxonomy, Distribution, Rarity Status and Economic Uses of Canadian Cacti. Haseltonia 9: 17-25.
  • Harms, V. L. 2003. Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Saskatchewan and the Provincially and Nationally Rare Native Plants in Saskatchewan. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: University Extension Press, University of Saskatchewan.
  • Ined. The Rare Plant Database of Saskatchewan: A database of the rare native vascular plants of Saskatchewan. SASK Herbarium.
  • Rare Native Vascular Plants of Saskatchewan online images
    The W.P. Fraser Herbarium has made images of rare Saskatchewan native plants available for study.

One important rare plant information source comes from the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan. They have published guide dealing with rare plant surveys.

Different Categories of Rare Species

The definitions listed below were reviewed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in May 2004.

Wildlife Species: A species, subspecies, variety, or geographically or genetically distinct population of animal, plant or other organism, other than a bacterium or virus, that is wild by nature and it is either native to Canada or has extended its range into Canada without human intervention and has been present in Canada for at least 50 years.

Extinct (X): A species that no longer exists.
Extirpated (XT): A species no longer existing in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere.
Endangered (E): A species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
Threatened (T): A species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
Special Concern (SC): A species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.
Not at Risk (NAR): A wildlife species that has been evaluated and found to be not at risk of extinction given the current circumstances.
Data Deficient (DD): A wildlife species for which there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction.