Limestone Barrens



Species at Risk

Salix jejuna

The rare, endemic, Salix jejuna. Cape Norman. Photo: John E. Maunder. [CLICK
image to enlarge.]

Biologically, the "limestone barrens" of Newfoundland and Labrador are a "hotspot" of vascular plant diversity.

Almost 300 of the approximately 1300 vascular plants found on the Island of Newfoundland, and in adjacent Labrador, are considered to be RARE.

Over 100 of these are found on the "limestone barrens" of the Great Northern Peninsula of the Island of Newfoundland, and on the outlying "limestone barrens" to the south (on Table Mountain, west of Stephenville, and on the western portion of the Port au Port Peninsula). A few more are found on the numerous, scattered, outcrops and patches of limestone and dolomite found primarily within the western portions of the Island of Newfoundland, on Belle Isle, and on the Labrador Straits region of southern Labrador (and adjacent Québec).

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) uses various terms to describe the condition of endangered flora and fauna in Canada. These terms include:

  • Extinct (X) - A wildlife species that no longer exists.
  • Extirpated (XT) - A wildlife species no longer existing in the wild in Canada, but occurring elsewhere.
  • Endangered (E) - A wildlife species facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
  • Threatened (T) - A wildlife species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
  • Special Concern (SC) - A wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.

"Limestone Barrens Plants" presently listed in the Regulations of the Provincial Endangered Species Act include:


Long's Braya (Braya longii) - [Endemic Species]*
Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna) - [Endemic Species]*
Low Northern Rockcress (Braya [= Neotorularia] humilis [subsp. humilis])
Mackenzie's Sweetvetch (Hedysarum boreale subsp. mackenzii)


Fernald's Braya (Braya fernaldii) - [Endemic Species]*


Fernald's Milkvetch (Astragalus robbinsii var. [= "forma"] fernaldii)* is PRESENTLY [January 2012] still listed in the Regulations of the Provincial Endangered Species Act, AS WELL AS in the Québec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species. HOWEVER, its taxonomic status (ie. true identity) has BEEN QUESTIONED. A recent DNA study by Paul Sokaloff (MSc thesis and published paper) has presented convincing evidence to show that Fernald's Milkvetch is NOT, in fact, a separate genetic entity, but is, rather, just a white-hairy, "long-stiped" ["stipe" = a flower or pod stalk] variant of the more common Elegant Milkvetch (Astragalus eucosmus).

[*] Also included in Schedule 1 of the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), as "at risk NATIONALLY.

[Page last updated: November 12, 2021]

Limestone Barrens        Contact Us