Colour photo of the wood poppy

Photo: Allen Woodliffe

Wood-poppy is a perennial herb that reaches up to 40 cm in height. The flowers of the Wood-poppy have four bright yellow petals. The species generally blooms in May to early June and the seeds are dispersed in late June to July.

Protecting and recovering species at risk in Ontario

Species at risk recovery is a key part of protecting Ontario’s biodiversity. Biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth – provides us with clean air and water, food, fibre, medicine and other resources that we need to survive.

The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) is the Government of Ontario’s legislative commitment to protecting and recovering species at risk and their habitats. As soon as a species is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened under the ESA, it is automatically protected from harm or harassment. Also, immediately upon listing, the habitats of endangered and threatened species are protected from damage or destruction.

Under the ESA, the Ministry of Natural Resources (the Ministry) must ensure that a recovery strategy is prepared for each species that is listed as endangered or threatened. A recovery strategy provides science-based advice to government on what is required to achieve recovery of a species.

Government response statements

Within nine months after a recovery strategy is prepared, the ESA requires the Ministry to publish a statement summarizing the government’s intended actions and priorities in response to the recovery strategy. The recovery strategy for the Wood-poppy was completed on February 18, 2011.

The response statement is the government’s policy response to the scientific advice provided in the recovery strategy. In addition to the strategy, input on the response statement was requested from stakeholders, other jurisdictions, Aboriginal communities and members of the public. The statement reflects the best available traditional, local and scientific knowledge at this time and may be adapted if new information becomes available. In implementing the actions in the response statement, the ESA allows the Ministry to determine what is feasible, taking into account social and economic factors.

Moving forward to protect and recover Wood-poppy

Wood-poppy is listed as an endangered species under the ESA, which protects both the plant and its habitat. The ESA prohibits harm or harassment of the species and damage or destruction of its habitat without authorization. Such authorization would require that conditions established by the Ministry be met.

Wood-poppy is found in only three locations in Ontario, near London. This species has always been rare at this northern extent of its range where it is naturally limited by low reproductive success and cold winters. The primary threats to this species include erosion, encroachment from adjacent land uses, disturbance from recreational activities, and genetic contamination from horticultural plantings of the species.

The government’s goal for the recovery of Wood-poppy is to protect populations of the species and to improve the habitat where they occur. The government supports investigating the feasibility of augmenting existing populations.

Protecting and recovering species at risk is a shared responsibility. No single agency or organization has the knowledge, authority or financial resources to protect and recover all of Ontario’s species at risk. Successful recovery requires inter-governmental co-operation and the involvement of many individuals, organizations and communities.

In developing the multi-species government response statement, the Ministry considered what actions are feasible for the government to lead directly and what actions are feasible for the government to support its conservation partners to undertake.

Government-led actions

To help protect and recover the Wood-poppy, the government will directly undertake the following actions:

  • Educate other agencies and authorities involved in planning and environmental assessment processes on the protection requirements under the ESA.
  • Encourage the submission of Wood-poppy observation data to the Ministry’s central repository at the Natural Heritage Information Centre.
  • Undertake communications and outreach to increase public awareness of species at risk in Ontario.
  • Protect the Wood-poppy and its habitat through the ESA.
  • Support conservation, agency, municipal and industry partners to undertake activities to protect and recover the Wood-poppy. Support will be provided through funding, agreements, permits (including conditions) and advisory services.
  • Establish and communicate annual priority actions for government support across multiple species in order to encourage collaboration and reduce duplication of efforts.

Government-supported actions

The government endorses the following actions as being necessary for the protection and recovery of the Wood-poppy. Actions identified as "high" will be given priority consideration for funding or for authorizations under the ESA. The government will focus its support on these high-priority actions over the next five years.

Focus Area: Research and Monitoring

Objective: Improve knowledge of the abundance of Wood-poppy and their natural limiting factors.


  1. (High) Conduct research to better understand the causes of low reproductive success.
  2. Monitor populations to detect major fluctuations in population numbers, response to recovery actions, and effects of significant climate events (e.g. late frost) on Wood-poppy.
  3. Determine the degree of genetic variability that occurs within and among the Ontario and United States populations.

Focus Area: Protection and Management

Objective: Implement measures to protect and improve populations of Wood-poppy, reduce identified threats and increase the availability of habitat.


  1. (High) Manage the habitat of Wood-poppy to control the spread of invasive species, reduce trampling, and increase the availability of sites for Wood-poppy seeds to germinate.
  2. As appropriate, augment the Fanshawe population of Wood-poppy with individuals that have been grown in cultivation from native Ontario genetic material.
  3. As opportunities arise, support the securement of habitat of Wood-poppy through existing land securement and stewardship programs.

Focus Area: Awareness

Objective: Increase the awareness of landowners and the neighbouring public of Wood-poppy and the protection of its habitat.


  1. Develop and provide information to landowners and local recreational land users to increase awareness and promote protection and recovery of Wood-poppy.
  2. Educate gardening groups, nurseries and seed suppliers on the negative impacts of planting cultivated Wood-poppy in the wild.

Implementing actions

Financial support for the implementation of actions may be available through the Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program, Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program or Conservation Lands Tax Incentive Program. Conservation partners are encouraged to discuss project proposals related to the actions in this response statement with the Ministry. The Ministry can also advise if any authorizations under the ESA may be required to undertake the project.

Implementation of the actions may be subject to changing priorities across the multitude of species at risk, available resources and the capacity of partners to undertake recovery activities. Where appropriate, the implementation of actions for multiple species will be co-ordinated across government response statements.

Reviewing progress

The ESA requires the Ministry to conduct a review of progress towards protecting and recovering a species not later than five years from the publication of this response statement. The review will help identify if adjustments are needed to achieve the protection and recovery of the Wood-poppy.


We would like to thank all those who participated in the development of the "Recovery Strategy for the Wood-poppy in Ontario" for their dedication to protecting and recovering species at risk.

For additional information:

Visit the species at risk website at
Contact your MNR district office
Contact the Natural Resources Information Centre
Tel: 1-800-667-1940
TTY: 1-866-686-6072