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Stylophorum diphyllum

Wood Poppy

Found in rich deciduous forests, forested ravines and slopes, the wood poppy is a spring-flowering perennial plant listed as Endangered in Canada. The northern limit of its range extends to Canada, where it is only found in three known populations — all in southwestern Ontario.

The situation

A rare plant, facing complex challenges

The wood poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) has never had large populations in Canada and was once thought to be extirpated. Habitat loss and degradation are the primary threats to this species, where the pressures resulting from human density in southern Ontario are high. Invasive species like garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) also pose a significant threat as they have the potential to outcompete the wood poppy.

Photo Credit: Kirsty McFadyen

Our work

The Wilder Institute has over 20 years of experience working and advising on conservation translocation projects around the world. With this experience, we are providing guidance and training to our partners that will contribute to the success of this initiative.

Plant Propagation & Translocation

This research aims to increase the number and size of populations of at-risk Canadian plant species on protected lands. To accomplish this, researchers will be using the conservation tool of translocation to create new populations of wood poppy in suitable habitats within the species’ historical range.

Our partners at the University of Lethbridge are using computer modelling and Species Distribution Models (SDMs) to rank habitat suitability as low, medium, and high and will be exploring how well these SDMs can predict the success of these translocations.

Researchers are also investigating the effect of other factors on the success on the translocation of the wood poppy. Some factors to be tested include the effect of propagation method (i.e. using seed, immature or mature plants) and the effect of protected and unprotected plantings. Providing a protective structure over a translocated or recently seeded plant can help to protect from herbivory from animals such as white-tailed deer and mice.

This research will also increase our knowledge of the life history and population demographics of some of Canada’s plant species at risk, including:

  • Drooping trillium (Trillium flexipes)
  • Green dragon (Arisaema dracontium) 
  • Green violet (Hybanthus concolor)
  • American gromwell (Lithospermum latifolium) 
  • Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) 
  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis
  • Spotted wintergreen(Chimaphila maculata)

Our conservation impact

The knowledge gained from this research has the potential to be used in plant translocations across Canada and beyond. It will inform recovery efforts for at-risk plant species in Canada and increase the knowledge and capacity to use translocations as a recovery tool for rare plant species in the future.


The Quiet Green Creatures – A Video by The University of Lethbridge

Did you know?

The seeds of the wood poppy have an oil-rich structure on them called an elaiosome. This structure aids in seed dispersal as ants will carry the seed away to use the elaiosome as food and will discard the seed, leaving it behind to germinate away from the parent plant.


We are grateful for the collaboration and the opportunity to support the following partners on this important project.

Join the movement

Incredible successes can be achieved when we work together.

With your support, we can help create a wilder world for the wood poppy. Join our donor community and take action for wildlife and wild places today!

How you can help