Howell’s triteleia (Triteleia howellii) COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 9

Special Significance of the Species

Triteleia howellii occurs in a very restricted habitat type, the Garry oak ecosystem on southeastern Vancouver Island, which itself is within habitat type that covers a restricted area in the province, the open, dry Douglas-fir forests that are also found on several islands in the Gulf of Georgia and a narrow strip of adjacent mainland. In this unique vegetation type in Canada, which has been greatly reduced by urban development in the last one hundred years, a high number of rare species are also found.

These populations are at the northern extent of their geographic range. Peripheral populations are often genetically and morphologically divergent from central populations and may have an evolutionary and ecological significance out of proportion to the percentage of the species they represent (Mayr 1982; Lesica and Allendorf 1995). The protection of genetically distinct peripheral populations may be important for the long-term survival of the species as a whole (Lesica and Allendorf 1995).

The bulb-like corms of this species are edible and like other related species may have been used by native peoples as a food source (pers. comm., Nancy Turner).

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