The structure and propagation of lock-release bottom gravity currents in a linearly stratified ambient with the presence of a submerged canopy are investigated for the first time using large-eddy simulations. The canopy density (i.e. the solid volume fraction), the strength of ambient stratification and the canopy height are varied to study their respective effects on the gravity current. Both denser canopies and stronger ambient stratification tend to switch the horizontal boundary along which the current propagates from the channel bed towards the canopy top (i.e. the through-to-over flow transition). It is found that the dilution of the current density is enhanced by denser canopies but is weakened by stronger ambient stratification. The non-monotonic relationship between front velocity and canopy density proposed by Zhou et al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 831, 2017, pp. 394–417) in homogeneous environments is also observed in stratified environments. However, as the ambient stratification is strengthened, the present study shows a shift of the turning point (beyond which increasing canopy density leads to faster current propagation) towards sparser canopies, accompanied by a more pronounced recovery of the front velocity. This is the combined action of three stratification-induced mechanisms: the promotion of through-to-over flow transition (less canopy drag), the upward displacement of current nose in a stably stratified water column (more buoyancy gain) and the weakening of current dilution (less buoyancy loss). Under stronger ambient stratification, the propagation of gravity currents shows a lower sensitivity to the retarding effect of the submerged canopy.