Species Profile

Nodding Pogonia

Scientific Name: Triphora trianthophoros
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2010
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered

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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 Nodding Pogonia

Nodding Pogonia Photo 1
Nodding Pogonia Photo 2



The Nodding Pogonia is a perennial herb. Its fleshy greenish-purple stem grows to a height of 5 to 31 cm. The leaves are small and round. There are 1 to 7 flowers, but only one or two open at a time. The fruit is a green capsule; each capsule contains many thousands of very small seeds.


Distribution and Population

The Nodding Pogonia occurs in the United States from New England and Michigan, south to Texas and Florida. In Canada, it is only found in southwestern Ontario. In 1998 there were two known populations in the province, a variable one in Rondeau Provincial Park in Kent County, and a smaller one in Essex County. When the Rondeau Park orchid colony was found in 1966, there were several clumps of 10-15 plants each. Between 1966 and 1986, the park's Nodding Pogonia population grew to more than 1500 plants. Over the next 10 years, yearly counts at Rondeau showed a population decline of 90%. By 1997, there were an estimated 50 orchids remaining in the park. The Essex County site was first discovered in 1950, when about 12 plants were noted. The population peaked in 1967, when 188 plants were found. The last two plants were recorded in 1985; the orchid could not be relocated there in 1998.



The Nodding Pogonia grows in rich, humid deciduous woodlands where there is a deep leaf litter. This species is both moisture-loving and shade tolerant.



The Nodding Pogonia begins appearing above the ground at the end of July. Once it appears above the ground, it grows very quickly. The flowers bloom during one day, opening in the morning and drooping by the evening. The flowers bloom in August or early September. Insects are the main pollinators. Seeds are dispersed by the wind. Germination of the seeds depends on contact with a specific fungus. Dry conditions are known to prevent flowering in this species.



Nodding Pogonia at Rondeau Park are at risk from trampling, soil compaction, and collection. Storms that damage the forest canopy can cause a reduction in the humus layer and ground moisture level, adding to the stress on the plants. Most of the Essex County site was heavily grazed until recently, which may have caused soil compaction detrimental to the orchid. Selective tree-cutting in the area thinned the canopy, causing drying and loss of humus, which further reduced the pogonia population.



Federal Protection

The Nodding 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 Nodding 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. This species occurs in Rondeau Provincial Park..

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 Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophoros) in Canada
Status Final 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.

5 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Nodding Pogonia Triphora trianthophoros in Canada (2011)

    Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophoros) is a small orchid that persists mainly as an underground rootstock, sending up flowering shoots only in favourable years. It forms colonies through asexual reproduction by small tubers formed from the ends of its fleshy roots. The greenish-purple aerial shoots vary in height from 5 to 31 cm. One to several small, alternate, round clasping leaves are attached on the stem from about midway to the base of the inflorescence. Plants commonly produce three flowers, each subtended by a leafy bract. The corolla consists of a central, lower lip, bearing three greenish crests, and two dorsal petals. The three sepals are white and petal-like. Fruit is an erect green capsule.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Nodding Pogonia (2011)

    This small showy orchid of rich woodland soils undergoes variable periods of dormancy. In Canada, this species is known from only two populations in southwestern Ontario, one of which has not been observed in more than 20 years. About 1400 flowering stems were documented at one site in 2008 during a year of high rainfall, in contrast to a decade previously when the Canadian population was documented as consisting of only 50 individuals. Although grazing by deer has been reduced, invasive plants have contributed to a loss in habitat quality and exotic earthworms are likely the cause of the reduction of the organic layer of the forest floor. Chance events could also impact the population.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophoros) in Canada (2016)

    The Minister of the Environment is the competent minister under SARA for the Nodding Pogonia and has prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub sections 41(1) or (2)). The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (now the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the Nodding Pogonia (Part 2) in cooperation with Environment Canada. The province of Ontario also led the development of the attached Government Response Statement (Part 3), which is the Ontario Government's policy response to its provincial recovery strategy and summarizes the prioritized actions that the Ontario government intends to take and support.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011)

    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 during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

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