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Engelmann’s Quillwort

Isoetes engelmannii

There are only two known populations, one on the lower Severn and the other on the Gull River. The total number of plants known in Canada is likely under 2,000.

COSEWIC Status: Endangered

COSSARO Status: Endangered


  • An aquatic plant, it has a cluster of weak and stringy leaves that rise from two corms.
  • Leaves usually measure 20 to 40 cm, but can extend to 90 cm.
  • Leaves often float on water or sprawl across mud flats; the corms are not usually visible, but buried in the soil.
  • Colour of the leaves varies from bright green to brownish-green.

Habits and Reproduction

  • Reproduces through spores, which mature in late summer.
  • Mixing of megaspores (female) from one plant with microspores (male) from another start new plants.
  • Spores are usually dispersed by water currents, so tend to be close to the parent plants.


  • Corm is anchored in sand and clay soil in shallow water along the shoreline.


  • Changes in water levels and quality.
  • Increase in water based recreational activities.
  • Toxic spills and seepage from private and public facilities are also potential threats.
  • Competition from other aquatic vegetation.
  • Abundance of Zebra Mussels.

Conservation Actions

Photo Gallery

For more information about the Engelmann’s Quillwort in the Georgian Bay area, contact:

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
1350 High Falls Road
Bracebridge, Ontario
P1L 1W9
Phone: 705-645-8747

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