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



Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii) is a small (10 cm 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. (Updated 2017/07/27)


Distribution and Population

Fernald’s Braya is endemic to the Limestone Barrens ecosystem on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. It is known from 16 populations that span about 150 km of coastline. It is likely that Fernald’s Braya occurs sparsely throughout the almost continuous strip of limestone barrens at the northern (70 km) end of its range. (Updated 2017/07/27)



Fernald’s Braya is a calciphile (requires calcium-rich soils) that inhabits the Limestone Barrens--a mosaic of patches of shallow nutrient-poor calcium-rich soils in frost-shattered barrens, bedrock outcrops, fine-grained substrate, and tundra-like heaths within 1.5 km of the coast, and situated 13 to 15 m above sea level. Frost action, soil erosion from heavy precipitation, and wind erosion maintain open areas in which Fernald’s Braya seedlings germinate. Fernald’s Braya is also capable of inhabiting undisturbed limestone barrens where frost action has formed patterned substrate, such as sorted stripes and polygons, or anthropogenically degraded limestone barrens, such as abandoned limestone quarries and roadways, and levelled areas of land around utility lines. These areas consist of homogeneous gravel substrates with no patterned substrate and low species diversity. (Updated 2017/07/27)



Fernald’s Braya is a long-lived (likely 20+ years) perennial whose life cycles can be divided into eight stages: seeds, four seedling stages (year one to four), and three adult stages (vegetative, single rosette flowering, and multiple rosette flowering). Flowering begins in mid-June and plants produce fruit by mid-August. Each flower produces on average 10-16 small (1-1.5 mm), round seeds that need to undergo a period of cold stratification and be scarified before they will germinate. Fernald’s Braya growingon anthropogenically degraded habitat move more quickly through their life cycle and have a higher reproductive output than individualsgrowing on undisturbed habitat, but they also have higher mortality rates. Fernald’s Braya are not known to reproduce asexually. (Updated 2017/07/27)



Past habitat loss through quarrying, road construction, and community expansion was the most significant and widespread threat to Fernald’s Braya, but currently it is the maintenance of that infrastructure that is a threat. These large-scale disturbances left some areas heavily degraded but still capable of supporting Fernald’s Braya (i.e., represent anthropogenically disturbed populations). Populations on such anthropogenically degraded habitat may threaten the viability of undisturbed populations by acting as reservoirs for pests and pathogens. Fernald’s Braya populations are negatively affected by an introduced, pesticide-resistant, agricultural insect pest and two pathogens, all of which decrease seed set and increase mortality rates in each population. Summer and winter air temperatures on the limestone barrens increased from 1991 to 2002 and mean annual air temperature is predicted to increase another 4ºC by 2080. These climatic changes could reduce winter snow cover, alter the frost-sorting processes characteristic of the limestone barrens, and affect the population distribution and abundance of pests and pathogens. Surveys conducted within the distribution of Fernald’s Braya found that 59-76% of respondents thought off-road vehicles were causing more damage than any other human activity. Dumping garbage, piling and cutting wood, and drying fishing nets can cause Fernald’s Braya mortality and decrease habitat quality, but these activities are more localized and less frequent. Hybridization with the closely related Long’s Braya is possible but considered rare. Until roads degraded the landscape, these species did not co-occur and there was no indication of hybridization; however, recent research suggests hybridization is possible in populations on anthropogenically degraded habitat where these species co-occur. (Updated 2017/07/27)



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.

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.