Photo: Kim Trudeau
Notes from volunteers and staff about our field observations, research, maintenance, and adventures stewarding Couchiching Conservancy properties.
There are always things we as individuals can do to have a massive impact on the environment and ecosystems here at home. And I mean at home, I mean; in your yard.
Garlic mustard. Purple loosestrife. Phragmites reed. Dog-strangling vine. The list of invading plants keeps getting longer, and our knowledge of how to battle them is ever changing. The species listed here, plus many more, are ones that have shown up in the Couchiching region from their distant home ranges, and they are quickly displacing the native species.
Common names for plants can be an easy way to identify them; mention trillium, and a familiar image quickly comes to mind. But sometimes the common name, or names, we give flora can create all kinds of confusion.
As a Conservation Assistant completing fieldwork at the Carden Alvar Natural Area with the Couchiching Conservancy, I’ve had the opportunity to observe several wildflowers unique to this globally-rare alvar environment. They impact the various species of wildlife that call Carden home, and are worth appreciating.
Forested areas in our region contain a wide variety of majestic deciduous and coniferous trees. As you travel further north in Simcoe County, the forest type shifts as you get closer to the Canadian Shield. You will begin to notice that there are more conifer trees, especially the common, yet important, balsam fir.
There has been much emphasis lately on plants that benefit wildlife, especially pollinators such as bees. Most people think of native wildflowers for this purpose but there are many helpful, and beautiful, native shrubs that are important to wildlife.
The name tamarack comes from an Algonkian word meaning “wood to make snowshoes”, telling us just how important this tree species was to the First Nation community.
On the Carden Alvar, a different form of sumac takes over where the thin soils over limestone bedrock create more difficult growing conditions. Fragrant sumac, as its name suggests, releases a pleasant citrus-like aroma when its young leaves are crushed. This species turns red in the autumn as well, but a somewhat softer, rosier shade than its staghorn cousin.
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