Species Profile

Large Whorled Pogonia

Scientific Name: Isotria verticillata
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 | Other Protection or Status | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Large Whorled Pogonia

Large Whorled Pogonia Photo 1



The Large Whorled Pogonia is a species of orchid which can grow to 30 cm in height. It is relatively small and inconspicuous. It has many long hairy roots which form shoots from which new plants develop. There are 5 to 6 leaves at the top of the stem, which open at the same time as the flower and continue developing during flowering and development of the fruit. The leaves are green and measure 9 cm in length by 5 cm in width. The smooth slender stem is purplish. There is only one yellow-green flower. The capsule measures 25 by 7 mm. This plant has a delicate fragrance.


Distribution and Population

The Large Whorled Pogonia occurs in the United States from New England and Michigan south to Texas and Georgia. In Canada, this pogonia occurs only in southwestern Ontario. In 1986, the two known stations in southwestern Ontario consisted of about 21 plants. A third station was found in 1987 that had over 100 plants. The last recorded sighting of a Large Whorled Pogonia at any of the three sites was in 1996, when a single plant was found.



The Large Whorled Pogonia requires rich, moist deciduous or mixed forest on sandy soil with a thick leaf litter and lots of humus. It favours a forest canopy that is relatively open.



In Canada, the Large Whorled Pogonia flowers at the end of May and the beginning of June. This plant reproduces mainly through shoots, but also through seeds. Bees are the main pollinators. The seeds are dispersed by the wind. The seeds require the presence of a specific fungi to germinate.



Habitat destruction or modification is a threat to the Large Whorled Pogonia in Canada. One site was probably eliminated after beaver activity caused flooding. Logging is a threat to other habitat areas. Trampling and collection of specimens are threats to the orchid. Low population numbers, due to the fact that this species is at the northern limit of its range, is also a limiting factor for Canadian populations of Large Whorled Pogonias.



Federal Protection

The Large Whorled Pogonia 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 Large Whorled Pogonia is protected by the Ontario Endangered Species Act. Under this Act, it is prohibited to kill, harm, harass, or collect this species, or to destroy its habitat.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Other Protection or Status

An export permit is required under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Large Whorled Pogonia (Isotria verticillata) in Canada
Status First posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

Carolinian Woodland Plants Recovery Team

  • Jarmo Jalava - Chair/Contact - Other
    Phone: 705-760-2823  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.

6 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Large Whorled Pogonia (2013)

    This orchid is known historically from only 3 sites in Ontario, but it has not been seen since 1996 despite searches at two of the three previously known sites.  The species requires rich, deciduous or mixed, moist forest on sandy soil with abundant humus; this habitat continues to decline in quality due to trampling and exotic plants and earthworms.  It is possible that this species may still be extant in Canada since many orchids are known to have long dormancy periods and often occur in very low numbers.

Recovery Strategies

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.

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