Species Profile

Branched Bartonia

Scientific Name: Bartonia paniculata ssp. paniculata
Other/Previous Names: Bartonia paniculata
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2003
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Branched Bartonia

Branched Bartonia Photo 1



Branched Bartonia is an annual herb, 10 to 40 cm tall, with a green or purple, angled and sometimes twinning stem. It usually grows nestled deep among sphagnum moss, where it appears shorter in height and is difficult to distinguish. Leaves are small, alternating, and scale-like. Flowers are white, with four lobes, and grow on upward-facing branches. The tiny Branched Bartonia capsules taper to a blunt tip; averaging 4.2 mm in length, each capsule contains 1000 to 1500 seeds. Photosynthesis may be limited because this plant’s leaves are so small; therefore, it is likely that Branched Bartonia depends upon soil fungi for much of its organic nutrients.


Distribution and Population

Branched Bartonia is widely distributed in the eastern United States, from New England south to Louisiana and Texas. In Canada, it is known from only six confirmed sites in South Central Ontario, in the Muskoka and Parry Sound districts. Population sizes are not known with certainty, but they are estimated to range from 500 to 1000 individuals.



Branched Bartonia occurs in open graminoid (grass-like vegetation) or low shrub sphagnum bog or fen habitat. It is usually found growing on a peat substrate, and is associated with Larch and Black Spruce.



Branched Bartonia generally grows in clumps, but occasionally a few plants are found scattered over a wide area. It reproduces from seed annually, and is thought to be heterotrophic (relying on other organisms to obtain its nutrients). The conditions needed for seed germination are unknown.



The peripheral areas of two sites where Branched Bartonia is found are being taken over by Black Buckthorn, an invasive shrub. Continued expansion of this shrub could threaten Branched Bartonia at these sites.



Federal Protection

The Branched Bartonia 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 Branched Bartonia (Bartonia paniculata ssp. paniculata) in Canada
Status First posting on SAR registry


Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date In 2003, a total of 213 plants were found distributed throughout seven different locations in southern Ontario. There is uncertainty in the total number of plants present because detailed searches have not been conducted at most known sites and due to the fact that the plant is very easily overlooked. In 2005, 530 flowering/fruiting stems were found, which is a 67% increase over the results of the 2002 survey, but not all sites were surveyed in 2002. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities In 2005, Ontario Parks, Central Zone and the Parry Sound MNR District hired a consultant to inventory all Branched Bartonia populations in Ontario. All 7 known sites were surveyed and plants were found at all of them. There is now complete information on the current status of all known populations. URLs COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Branched Bartonia:http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/virtual_sara/files/cosewic/sr_branched_bartonia_e.pdf Ontario’s Biodiversity: Species at Risk:http://www.rom.on.ca/ontario/risk.php?doc_type=fact&lang=&id=29 Canada’s Species at Risk:http://www.canadianbiodiversity.mcgill.ca/english/species/endangered/endangeredpages/bar_pan.htm


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.

9 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Branched Bartonia Bartonia paniculata ssp. paniculata in Canada (2003)

    Branched bartonia (Bartonia paniculata ssp. paniculata) is an annual herb 1 to 4 dm tall with a green or purple angled and occasionally twining stem. Due to its common habit of growing deeply nestled in sphagnum moss, it generally appears much shorter. The leaves are reduced to minute scales arranged in an essentially alternate fashion. The inflorescence is usually a panicle of few to numerous, small, white, 4-lobed flowers on divergent or curved ascending branches. The capsule tapers to a blunt tip and averages 4.2 mm long. The seeds average 0.19 mm long x 0.12 mm wide with 1000 to 1500 per capsule. In view of the plant's greatly reduced leaves and thus its limited photosynthetic capacity, branched bartonia may be heterotrophic, i.e., dependent on soil fungi directly or indirectly for much of its organic nutrient requirements. The related subspecies iodandra occurs in Atlantic Canada but is not, overall, of conservation concern in the region.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment - Branched Bartonia (2003)

    Designated Special Concern in April 1992. Status re-examined and uplisted to Threatened in November 2003. Last assessment based on an update status report.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Branched Bartonia (paniculata) (2004)

    A cryptic wetland annual species of Atlantic Coastal Plain affinity, highly restricted both geographically and ecologically and present at only six of seven documented sites. Ontario populations are disjunct by about 600 km from the main range of the species with little potential for a rescue effect. The greatest potential risk is from the invasive shrub, glossy buckthorn, at two localities.

Recovery Strategies


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2004)

    The 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 (2005)

    The Minister of the Environment is recommending, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), that 43 species be added to Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. This recommendation is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, wildlife management boards, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2004 (2004)

    2004 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: November 2004 (2004)

    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.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update March 31, 2017