Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summers Botanical Jewels

One of the great things about being out and about in the outdoors of Ontario is the beauty that you tend to happen upon on a regular basis. In fact if you are outdoors and have your eyes open you run into beauty everywhere. It can be fireflies along a stretch of swampy road, a doe and spotted fawn in the forest near the trail, or a beautiful bird in the bush or tree in front of you. This post is about the wildflowers that adorn this provinces' woods and meadows. Obviously, Ontario has thousands of species of plants, the majority of them flowering, so to narrow this down I am selecting a few "spectacular" species. Who decided what is spectacular? Hey, I am writing this, so I get to choose! The choice is purely arbitrary and really the list could go on and on! In fact I have chosen only a few for this post but may revisit this subject down the road.

Butterfly Milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa

The number of truly orange flowers in Ontario is surprisingly low and this speccies of Milkweed is the showiest of the oranges. It is found across Ontario in areas that have dry sandy soil and can be seen from the 401 in places. The Pinery is a good spot, the area around Camp Borden, the Oak Ridges moraine in various spots. It will grow to about 2 ft tall but is usually shorter and can be in open woodlands or open fields. I will admit this is a sentimental favorite of mine and therefore it goes first!

Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata

As a canoeist I love seeing this close relative of the butterfly milkweed growing along the shorelines of lakes and streams as well as in wet spots and some ditches. This species gets up to four feet tall. This photo was taken along the Nonquon River in Seagrave, ON. This particular specimen was occcupied by a Monarch. Monarch caterpillers feed almost exclusively on the milkweed family.

Fragrant Water-Lily, Nymphaea odorata

Who doesn't love this one seen in all our quiet rivers and lakes. The water lily, white or yellow is a spectacular flower and a delight to paddle among!

Black Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta

Ok this is a common roadside flower over much of the province. I still think it is one of the nicest roadside flowers going. It is a ray of sunshine as you drive along!

Cardinal Lobelia, Lobelia cardinalis

This one is definitely not your average roadside flower. This beauty is found along wooded streams. I have seen it in the Niagara region, along the Nonquon and in Bon Echo park. This photo was taken at Bon Echo, along the road to Joe Perry Lake. Can be 1 to 4 feet tall. One of my all time favorite wildflowers!

Harebell, Campanula rotundifolia

This is one of those delicate little beauties that often go unnoticed in the sunny forest floor. I like it because of its delicate blue color and because it seems to be to delicate to survive, and yet it does in some way survive in heavily used campgrounds such as the Pinery where this one was taken

Showy Ladies Slipper, Cypripedium reginae

This is our largest, showiest, native orchid, found in swampy areas and wet woods. It is not a common sight but there are places to see it. Purdon bog is one area that is famous for the massive show of these beauties. They are found in other parts of the province including the Bruce and Manitoulin. This is one of those plants that prove it pays to keep your eyes open when driving the backroads. I took this photo today just outside of Port Hope, ON, at one of two colonies that I found within five miles of country road.

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