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Globally Rare Plants and Lichens

The Hairy Braya, Nahanni Aster and Arctic Orangebush Lichen are species unique to the Northwest Territories. They are found nowhere else in the world. The Banks Island Alkali Grass, Raup’s Willow, and Drummond Bluebell have very restricted distributions limited to the Northwest Territories and neighbouring areas. All six of these species are globally rare.

Hairy Braya is Threatened in the Northwest Territories and Endangered in Canada. Nahanni Aster is a species of Special Concern in Canada. The other species have not yet gone through the processes to assess and list species established by the Species at Risk (NWT) Act or federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), but have been ranked by the NWT General Status Ranking Program.

Map of NWT's globally rare plant species with glacial levels at 15,600 years ago

Some areas of the Northwest Territories remained glacier free during the last ice age. These ice-free areas acted as refugia that may have allowed species, such as certain rare plants, to survive in the Northwest Territories during the last ice age. We still have a limited knowledge of these species and areas. More rare plant surveys are needed.

Mackenzie Hairgrass, a species of Special Concern in Canada, is no longer considered an NWT species. Experts re-examined the single specimen from the east arm of Great Slave Lake and determined it was likely not Mackenzie Hairgrass but a different type of hairgrass.