What is Flora?
Flora is the naturally occurring indigenous plant life found in a particular region. The plants will be native to the area, and not planted from somewhere else.
The trillium is the floral emblem of Ontario. This early spring flower should not be picked, as the plant usually dies. It takes 6 years between the plant sprouting until they produce their first flowers. When the trillium is ready, it takes about one month to produce a flower. This spring flower shows up in May and lasts for two-four weeks until the trees grow their leaves and block out the sun to the understory.
Many First Nations brewed tea from the trillium root to aid in menstral cramps, or created a poultice out of it to heal sore eyes.
The Red trillium also blooms in May, and is more tolerant of acidic soil. The red trillium has no nector, but is pollinated by carrion flies. First Nations often ate red trillium root to help stop bleeding after childbirth, and various other ailments.
Dog Tooth Violet
The Dog Tooth Violet also known as the Trout Lily is one of the first signs of growth in the spring, often popping up through a fine dusting of snow on the forest floor. Recognized by its brown-mottled leaves, this is one the most common spring wildflowers, and it is found in sizeable colonies. The common name (Dogtooth Violet) refers to the tooth-like shape of the white underground bulb. The name Trout Lily (a more suitable name since the flower is not a Violet) refers to the similarity between the leaf markings and those of the brook trout. Trout lilies play a vital role in the forest ecosystem, because they are able to dominate early growth as soon as the snow melts, they draw up almost half of the nutrients like nitrogen & potassium from the breakdown of fallen autumn leaves. Without the trout lily utilizing these nutrients, many would be lost in spring run off. When the trees leaf out in May, clouding the understory the trout lilies nutrients are released into the soil from their decaying leaves and become nutrients for the rest of the forest vegetation.
Spring Beauty an early spring wildflower. The tiny flowers are white, white with faint pink lines, or pink with darker pink lines, with 5 petals.
The leaves are narrow and smooth, the stem is fairly weak supporting one flower and set of leaves. After it flowers, the entire plant disappears by early summer until the following spring. It grows from tiny tubers.
The flowers close at night or during storms or during cloudy weather. These flowers are found in rich open woods, alluvial thickets, upland slopes, and forest edge. They prefer a damp, lime-free soil and full sun.
Dutchman's Breeches are one of the early spring wildflowers. All traces of these plants will be gone by late summer. Flowers are white and resemble a pair of baggy breeches hanging upside down. The flowers wilt almost immediately upon picking so they should not be collected in the wild.
Devils Paintbrush, also known as Orange hawkweed is a perennial with a shallow root system. Leaves are hairy, up to 6 inches long, and found at the base of the flower. Each rosette is capable of producing between 10 and 30 flowering stems, and each stem is capable of producing 5 to 30 flowering heads. Orange hawkweed has a shallow root system and underground creeping stems called rhizomes. New plants can arise from buds on the rhizomes and plants can develop several creeping stems (like strawberries) that are also capable of producing new plants. Hawkweeds are members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and are closely related to dandelions. Bloom time is from late May to mid June with seed set in August.
Indian Pipe is one of the easiest plants to recognize in the forest. Unlike most plants, Indian Pipe doesn't have chlorophyll, that makes plants green. Indian Pipe is a waxy, whitish colour. This plant grows four to ten inches tall, and has flowers that droop and tiny, scale-like leaves. Indian Pipe is usually seen from June to September. It grows in shady woods with rich soil and decaying plant matter, often found near dead stumps. Indian Pipe has a unique relationship with trees & fungus, and is able to utilize the fungus to acquire nutrients from tree roots. This plant bruises black when handled, and if picked bleeds a black gooey liquid. Historically the dried root of this plant was used to cure fainting, epileptic fits & nervous disorders.
These early April bloomers are cherished by those who love flowers. They bloom with the greatest profusion through June and are found in evergreen forests, meadows & wetland fringes. Drawn by the flowers delicate scent, flying insects land on its mid petal straight to its sweet nectar, thus pollinating the flowers. Violets are colonial, and spread via underground runners that sprout out clones of the parent plant.
These flowers are also popular as an edible candied treat. The petals can be added to jam, syrup, salads & liqueurs as well as candy. Candied violets are often placed on desserts as edible decor. The leaves contain five times more vitamin C then oranges, and twice the vitamin A content of spinach.
Wild Strawberries are a delectable spring/summer treat. These tiny drops of sweetness are a favorite of cottage goers. The plant itself is quite tiny only 2-10" tall, with small white flowers, and hairy leaflets in threes.
Found in woodlands, meadows & clearings where they can take advantage of sunlight. The strawberry is actually not a berry at all, but the pulpy center of the flower. Each of the tiny seeds on the berry are actually a complete one seeded fruit.
This tiny red edible provides excellent habitat for wildlife. It provides an abundance of fruit that are a delectable treat for human and animal alike. Partridge, raccoon, chipmunks, squirrels, and bear enjoy these tasty morsels. Raspberry bushes also provide excellent nesting & cover for many birds and small mammals. The stems are quite prickly and care should be taken not to get the almost invisible "hairs" in your skin while picking the berries.Edible parts are the fruit and stem. Young shoots are harvested like asparagus when they emerge in spring, can be peeled or eaten raw.
A herb tea is made from the dried leaves.
Traditional Medical Information: A tea was made from the roots and leaves in treatment of diarrhea, a tonic for the uterus in pregnancy, and child birthing aid. Considered effective in relieving painful cramps from menstruation.
Wild Blackberries are easily recognized and are found all over North America. The leaves are toothed and divided into segments called leaflets. The fruit ripens from mid-summer to early fall going from green to black. The juicy ripe berries can be slightly tart to sweet, and are favored by the same species that like raspberries.
Wild Blueberries are a summer favorite of not only humans, but bears, smaller mammals and birds. They ripen in late July and early August thriving on dry rocky habitats with thin acidic soil. These little blue bursts of sweetness become ripe at the perfect time for birds, whose supply of insects in early May/June had dwindled. Birds & animals spread the seed and help to fertilize the plants.
In May/June they produce tiny white flowers that are pollinated by small bees & insects. Cold wet springs result in low pollination and berries, which can cause a dramatic effect on wildlife populations that depend on these berries as a food source.
These dangling bright orange flowers are quite spectacular. Orange is a rare colour in the wild outside of fall. First Nations used the liquid from the crushed plant on insect bites, poison ivy, and general itching. The plant can also be used to create yellow dye.
Jewelweed is unique in that the plant only lives 1 year. These plants are found in dense patches on wet ground, and can grow more than 3 feet in a few weeks. They bloom from early July until September frost. These flowers are a main food source of the Ruby Throated Hummingbird, and are also popular with many bees. Jewelweed has the ability to self pollinate and produces seed that are genetic clones of the parent plant. The seed pods swell until the barest of touch or breeze causes the pods to explode releasing the seed. This is what gives these bright orange flowered plants the name Touch Me Not.
This majestic wildflower is found on moist ground, around shallow shorelines and marshy sites. 2 or more flowers per plant grow to a deep purple colour. It is a favorite of bumblebees, butterflies and other insects seeking its nectar. After pollination the flowers wilt & produce green seedpods which split and let the seeds fall, often into the water below. The seeds germinate in the spring and shoot up leaves, but it often takes a year or two before the plant has enough stored energy to grow flowers. Note: Iris root is poisonous and potentially deadly if eaten.