Species Profile

Fernald's Braya

Scientific Name: Braya fernaldii
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: Newfoundland and Labrador
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened

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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 Fernald's Braya

Fernald's Braya Photo 1



The plant is an erect perennial with long, fleshy basal leaves. It has a green to purplish scape (stalk growing directly from ground) covered in soft down which reaches a height of 1-7 cm or more. A deep taproot anchors the plant and reaches adequate moisture. Leaves are glaucous (greyish-green to blue) and spatula-shaped with pointed ends; they measure 1-4 cm in length and 1-3 mm in width. Clusters of small white flowers with petals 2-4 mm long and 1-1.3 mm wide are held within four oval, green to purple-tinged sepals, and are connected individually to a stalk. The septum margins are broadly expanded at the base, forming a sack-like pouch which is covered in soft down. A single row of 10-16 seeds is situated at the bottom of the pouch. As with all members of the mustard family, the flowers have four tall and two short stamens (male fertilizing organs). This species is similar to Long's braya in general appearance, but it has smaller petals, smaller and more purplish sepals, and a pubescent (as opposed to hairless) pouch.


Distribution and Population

Fernald's braya is endemic to Newfoundland. It has been reported in up to 15 isolated locations, although population sizes (from one to more than 200 plants) were known for only four sites. According to estimates from the summer of 2000, there are approximately 3500 plants in 14 sites, and populations appear to be stable.The plant has been located in the northern half of Great Northern Peninsula as far south as Point Riche, and as far north as Burnt Cape. Nine of the 15 known sites were documented in 1925, when the plant was common in the Straits region, but six of these nine sites have not been located since, due to their small size or destruction of the habitat. Seven of the 15 sites have been subjected to natural disturbances, which suggests that disturbances may be beneficial.



The plant favours limestone barrens characterized by tundra-like vegetation and shallow calcareous soils, including areas with loose limestone gravels. Such gravels are found on abandoned roadbed and quarry sites. These sites are often windswept in winter, exposing the plants to extreme winter cold and scouring winds. Since frost prevents other plants from establishing in these sites, Fernald's braya has an ecological advantage in disturbed areas.



The plant is self-pollinating, and has a highly successful seed set. It dies back to crown in winter and regrows each spring. The life span is only several years. Wind is the main means of seed dispersal, but seeds are usually only carried a short distance. This factor explains why a population can't establish itself in a new area once its site is destroyed.



The population is easily maintained in areas with continued natural disturbances provided it has an appropriate habitat and seed source, although the extraction of resources and uncontrolled development do present a threat to the species. Man-made locations have provided suitable habitat, but too much traffic or quarrying can destroy a site. Road construction has destroyed a large percentage of coastal limestone barrens in Newfoundland during the past 20 years. Local construction has tapped limestone barrens. When the population size is low, predation by moth larvae becomes a limiting factor. All-terrain vehicles and other vehicle traffic also threaten small populations. Recently, the newly established threat of mortality due to a non-native insect is being investigated; at this point, the effects of the insect on the recovery of the plant cannot be determined.



Federal Protection

The Fernald's Braya 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.

Fernald's Braya occurs on Coast Guard property, which is federal land protected under SARA. It also occurs within Port au Choix National Historic Site, where it is protected under the Canada National Parks Act. In addition, it is protected by the Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act. Under this Act, it is prohibited to kill, harm, trade, or possess members of this species. It occurs within Watt's Point and Burnt Cape ecological reserves.

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 Long’s Braya (Braya longii) and the Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

Limestone Barrens Species at Risk Recovery Team, NL

  • Susan Squires - Chair/Contact - Government of NL
    Phone: 709-637-2963  Fax: 709-637-2080  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.

9 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Fernald's Braya Braya fernaldii in Canada (2013)

    Fernald's Braya (Braya fernaldii) is a small (10 centimeters tall) herbaceous perennial in the mustard family Brassicaceae. It has fleshy, dark green to purplish, linear spatulate (spoon-shaped) leaves arranged in rosettes and four-petalled white to pinkish or purplish flowers. Fernald’s Braya is very similar morphologically to Long’s Braya (listed as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act) but it is shorter and has narrower petals, smaller and more purplish sepals, and pubescent leaves and fruit. It is one of four vascular plants endemic (only known from) to the island of Newfoundland.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Fernald's Braya (2013)

    This small perennial plant, endemic to the limestone barrens of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, is at increased risk over its limited range due to numerous threats. Ongoing habitat loss and degradation, combined with a non-native agricultural moth, result in low rates of survival and reproduction. These threats and the additional impact of climate change lead to the prediction that the species will go extinct in the wild within the next 80 years.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Long’s Braya (Braya longii) and the Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii) in Canada (2012)

    The Long’s Braya (Braya longii Fernald) and Fernald’s Braya (B. fernaldii Abbe) were listed as Endangered and Threatened, respectively, under the federal Species at Risk Act in 2003 and the Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act in 2002. A single recovery strategy for these two species has been developed due to the similarity in occurrences, threats, and recovery approaches. The Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency are the competent ministers for the recovery of the Long’s Braya and Fernald’s Braya, and have prepared this strategy, as per section 37 of SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Action Plans

  • Action Plan for the Long's Braya (Braya longii) and the Fernald's Braya (Braya fernaldii) in Canada (2016)

    The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada Agency is the competent minister under SARA for Long’s Braya and Fernald’s Braya and have prepared this action plan to implement the recovery strategy, as per section 47 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2017)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of the assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2017)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances). Given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report – 2012-2013 (2013)

    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 (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 2 Endangered: 28 Threatened: 19 Special Concern: 19 Data Deficient: 4 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 73 Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 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.

Consultation Documents

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

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Endangered or Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 518 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments by March 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. Consultation paths.

Residence Description

  • Residence Rationale - Fernald's Braya (2007)

    Individual Fernald’s Braya plants do not appear to use a dwelling place similar to a nest or den, and therefore do not qualify for having a residence. There would be no additional legal protection not already afforded by protection of the individual and its critical habitat.