Discover more than 5000 plants that are found across Canada. MY ACCOUNT
CanPlant

Written by: Summer Graham

 

The UN has declared the years 2021-2030 the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems and restore them to a natural state. This ambitious undertaking will contribute to achieving global goals set to enhance livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop biodiversity loss and collapse.

 

Healthy ecosystems like forests, wetlands, and mangroves contribute to the halting and reversal of climate change, absorbing up to one third of global CO2 emissions. With a projected global population of 9 billion by 2050, healthier ecosystems will allow us to feed growing populations without removing more natural features from the landscape. Restoration also has potential to create sustainable, green jobs which will be essential for the recovery and creation of sustainable societies post-COVID-19 global pandemic. In addition to these benefits to humans, almost 1 million plant and animal species on the brink of extinction can be brought back by restoring healthy habitats for them to thrive in.

 

 Currently, 57 countries, subnational governments, and private organizations have committed to start restoring over 170 million hectares of land within the decade. A variety of landscapes and ecosystems will be targeted including farmlands, forests, waters, mountains, grasslands, peatlands, and urban areas. The 10 actions highlighted for the decade of restoration work include:

 

  • Empower a global movement
  • Finance restoration on the ground
  • Set the right incentives
  • Celebrate leadership
  • Shift behaviours
  • Invest in research
  • Build up capacity
  • Celebrate a future of restoration
  • Build up the next generation
  • Listen and learn

 

Read, watch, and explore the resources below to learn more about the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and visit https://www.decadeonrestoration.org/ to learn how you can get involved!

 

Read:

IUCN - Decade on Ecosytem Restoration 

Rainforest Partnership - 2021-2030 Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, UN Announces 

Decade on Restoration - Tree planting crash course 

 

Watch:

Webinar on the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration

10 years to Heal the Planet

The Morton Arboretum, what is ecological restoration? 

 
Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Written by: Summer Graham

 

Did you know you can use CanPlant to create customized species lists for your native plant projects? Once you set up an account using your email address, you can view, edit, and add species to your saved lists, and export them as either a PDF including species details and photos, or as an Excel file.

 

After you use our filter feature to find species with the attributes you are looking for, our customizable plant lists help you keep track of and sort species for any application you can think of! Here are just some of the many ways you can make use of the species list feature on CanPlant to help you get inspired:

 

  • Making a list for shopping at your local native plant garden center (start in the winter and be ready to go when spring comes around!);
  • Creating lists of common and available species for restoration projects;
  • Keeping track of native garden species for planting by habitat type (eg. Pollinator garden, boulevard planting, wetland/wet meadow restoration);
  • Make a list of rapidly establishing native species to stabilize a recently cleared area;
  • Creating study sets to help learn and review species names and ID;
  • Keep a list of species you identified in a natural area you visited;
  • Create a “wish list” of native species you are looking for as donations towards a low budget or charity planting project;
  • Help a friend or neighbour make a list of native species to replace non-native/invasive species in their garden;
  • Create a “watch list” of unwanted invasive species in your province;
  • Develop a list of “acceptable species” to distribute to homeowners adjacent to a sensitive natural area;
  • And so much more!

 

TIP: If you are going to create multiple lists, make sure to give each a unique name and use the “description” section to add a brief note on what the list will be used for!

 

Now that you have some inspiration for creating species lists in CanPlant, head to our species page and start planning your next native species planting today! 

 

 

 

 
Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Written by: Mary Anne Young

 

 

What’s not to like about a plant that flowers while other plants are shutting down for the season?

 

American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), is an understory shrub of North America’s eastern deciduous forests. Although it does have interesting wavy leaves which add character in the forest, or woodland landscape design, throughout the summer, its real beauty is in the late fall when its yellow fall colour drops and it begins to bloom. Few native plants in North America flower in this season, so it is always a delight to me to find a Witch Hazel in full bloom when other plants are winding down for the winter.

 

 

 

The flowers are unique, consisting of twisted thread-like petals with a pleasant scent. It also has an interesting seed dispersal mechanism where the woody seed capsules slowly mature over the course of a year and when it dries to a certain extent splits open to shoot 1-2 black seeds explosively up to 6m (20 feet) in every direction.

 

 

 

Here are some additional details about this fascinating species:

 

Form: Woody plant, medium to large shrub
Size: 3 – 4m tall and wide
Sun/Shade: Partial shade to full shade
Soil: Clay, Sand, Loam
Habitat: Deciduous forests, stream banks, clearings
Canadian Distribution: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (see map above, from VASCAN)

                                                                

                                 

                                                                         

American Witch Hazel

(Hamamelis virginiana

 

View Plant

 

 

Witch Hazel is probably most popularly known for its use in medicine historically and today, where its leaves, bark, and twigs are used to make extracts and tinctures. Its tendency to grow along stream banks may have led to the myth that underground water could be found using a forked Witch Hazel branch (water witching).

 

Understory shrubs of the eastern deciduous forest have a tendency to be overlooked in favour of the delicate spring flowering wildflowers underfoot, or the towering trees overhead. However I challenge you to keep an eye out for Witch Hazel this fall as it puts on a show unrivalled by other forest plants at this time of the year.

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Written by: Carl-Adam Wegenschimmel

 

Honey Mushroom

 

One of the greatest adversaries to garden and wild plants is the great host of pathogens that regularly attack them. These organisms can belong to a variety of groups, including; fungi, bacteria, nematodes, and viruses. As human beings, we often consider the economic costs these organisms have on our economy, particularly in the agricultural, garden, and forest industries. However, pathogens also play natural roles in our ecosystems, killing sick plants and controlling the population growth of certain species that could otherwise dominate a community.

 

With the growing concern and insight into climate change, understanding how these understudied groups may affect plants and ecosystems is becoming increasingly important. One of the most noticeable of these groups is fungi!

 

Fungi attack their plant hosts in a variety of ways, some may first kill their hosts and feed on dead material (necrotrophs), which enter their hosts through wounds and natural openings. Other fungi feed on living tissue (biotrophs) which often enter their hosts in more specialized ways (Doehlemon et al. 2017).

 

Ulmus americana

Necrotrophs can sometimes be very destructive, especially when they are invasive species. A well-known example is Dutch Elm Disease (Ophiostoma novo-ulmi), which has severely reduced Elm tree abundance in North America. In this case, the fungus attacks trees with the aid of insects like the Native Elm Bark Beetle (Hylurgopinus rufipes) and the introduced European Elm Bark Beetle (Scolytus multistriatus). Dutch Elm Disease is believed to have originally been introduced from Asia, and so our native Elm trees have evolved little resistance to the fungus (Hubbes 1999). American Elm (Ulmus americana) and Rock Elm (Ulmus thomasii) have suffered the worst with Red Elm (Ulmus rubra) being slightly more resistant. The disease is spread to Elm trees when the beetles feed on twigs in spring time entering and slowly spreading into the trunk of the trees, blocking vascular tissues and eventually killing the host. The beetles are attracted to the diseased elms for breeding and subsequently bore holes into the infected Elms. Eggs are laid inside infected Elms where newly hatching beetles pick up spores and continue the cycle. 

 

 

Chrysomyxa pyrolae

Biotrophic fungi require living hosts in order to feed and have evolved specifically to interact with a living organism rather than a dead one. One of the most visible groups of these plant parasites are the rust fungi, which is one of the largest orders of fungi containing more than 8000 species worldwide (Lorrain et al. 2018). Some rusts cause little damage to their hosts whereas other species are better referred to as hemibiotrophs, which start off as seemingly benign biotrophs but eventually kill their host and act as necrotophic fungi (Koeck et al. 2011).

 

 

 

 

Some hemibiotrophic rusts are known to cause devastating damage to crops. Other species of rusts are rarely seen but have complex lifestyles like Chrysomyxa pyrolae seen here (right) on American Pyrola (Pyrola americana), which cycles between its Pyrola and Spruce (Picea spp.) hosts. Although this species does not necessarily kill its hosts, it has been observed to negatively affect seed crop in spruce trees (Sutherland et al, 2011).

 

There is still much to learn about the complex interactions between fungal pathogens and their plant hosts. Although with the continuous increase in scientific knowledge and technology, our understanding of these interactions is becoming clearer. Citizen science apps (like EDDMapS Ontario and iNaturalist) have also helped document the occurrence of these species, and may serve to help record the distribution of invasive species and maybe even prevent the spread of early invasions.

 

 

References

 

Doehlemann G, Ökmen B, Zhu W and Sharon A. 2017. Plant Pathogenic Fungi. Microbiol Spectr. 2017

Jan;5(1).

 

Hubbes M. 1999. The American elm and Dutch elm disease. Forest. Chron. 75:265–273.

 

Koeck M, Hardham A. R.  and Dodds. 2011. The role of effectors of biotrophic and hemibiotrophic fungi in infection. Cell Microbiol. 2011 Dec; 13(12): 1849–1857. Published online 2011 Sep 14. 

 

Lorrain C, Gonçalves dos Santos K.C, Germain H, Hecker A and Duplessis S. 2018. Advances in understanding obligate biotrophy in rust fungi. New Phytologist (2019) 222: 1190–1206.

 

Sutherland R, Hopkinson S and Farris S.H. 2011. Inland spruce cone rust, Chrysomyxa pirolata, in Pyrola asarifolia and cones of Picea glauca, and morphology of the spore stages. Canadian Journal of Botany 62(11):2441-2447 · January 2011

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Written by: Nicole White

 

When you call into mind a picture of this country, there's a good chance you're picturing the Boreal Forest. I know I can't help but picture these northern woodlands, which were idealized and made famous by the Group of Seven's influential 20th century landscape paintings, and are perhaps now hardwired into many people's minds as the definitive image of our land's wilderness.

 

The Jack Pine, by Tom Thompson

The Jack Pine, by Tom Thompson, 1916-17. The National Gallery of Canada.

 

However, while the Boreal Forest is vast, it represents only one of our incredibly diverse ecological communities, which include rainforests, alpine regions, and even desert landscapes! The expansive ecology of our country can be classified into 15 terrestrial ecozones (learn about these on our Find My Ecozone web map), or eight forest regions. Within these, there's a lot to discover.

 

The Acadian Forest

 

One forest region, unknown to many Canadians, is found in our eastern temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. These comprise a unique system generally called the Acadian Forest by settlers. Even as someone who'd grown up on the East Coast, this was something I'd never heard of until pursuing a horticultural diploma and becoming more interested in local species.

 

Formed as glaciers retreated north out of what we now call the Maritime provinces, Quebec, and New England, the Acadian Forest is a relatively small area, only perhaps 8% the size of the Boreal Forest. However, nested within it are several distinct and variable habitats. In these communities, flora and fauna work together in ways not found anywhere else, representative species show their understated beauty, and some very rare plants take refuge.

 

Extend of the Acadian Forest

Approximate extent of the Acadian Forest.

 

This area also roughly corresponds to the extents of the Wabanaki Territory, and has been understood by the Mi'kmaq and other Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands to be the place where the sun is first welcomed by the people of Turtle Island. The name 'Wabanaki' means 'People of the Dawn'.

 

Approximate extent of Wapane’kati. This map is derived from a more detailed graphic found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabanaki_Confederacy

 

Acadian Forest Habitats

 

Since the arrival of European settlers, many forested areas in the Acadian Forest have been lost to logging or agriculture, and disease has taken its toll on native Beech and Ash populations. Less than 1% of the forests prior to colonization remain today, but Hemlocks of over 100 years old can still be seen in preserved areas such as the Kentville Ravine in Nova Scotia.

 

An East Coast gardener looking for native trees to include in their landscapes could consider the following key species (click the View Plant button for more information on each):

 

Red Spruce

(Picea rubens)

 

View Plant

Red Spruce

Yellow Birch

(Betula alleghaniensis)

 

View Plant

Yellow Birch

Northern Red Oak

(Quercus rubra)

 

View Plant

Northern Red Oak

Sugar Maple

(Acer saccharum)

 

View Plant

Sugar Maple

Eastern Hemlock

(Tsuga canadensis)

 

View Plant

Eastern Hemlock

 

Understated beauty can be found in the bogs and wetlands of eastern woodlands, where Spaghnum (Peat) Moss, edible plants including Blueberry and Cranberry (both in the genus Vaccinium), and Rhodora, our native rhododendron, thrive in the acidic soil. Orchids including Rose Pogonia, White Fringe Orchid, and Dragons-Mouth are on display here, as well as carnivorous Pitcher Plants and Sundews. In marshes, Blue-flag, Wild Calla, and Waterlilies are common.

 

Roundleaf Sundew

(Drosera rotundifolia)

 

View Plant

Round-leaf Sundew

Rose Pogonia

(Pogonia ophioglossoides)

 

View Plant

Rose Pogonia

Waterlily

(Nymphae odorata)

 

View Plant

Waterlily

 

Rugged coastal area such as Peggy's Cove and Cape Split harbour lichens, mosses, and other flora adapted to growing in these wild places where almost no soil exists.  Plants include Rock Polypody (actually a small fern), Labrador Tea, and Sedums (which I've seen tenaciously clinging to vertical cliff faces overlooking the Atlantic)! Trees in these habitats tend to assume a stunted form to withstand high winds and salt spray.

 

Rock Polypody

(Polypodium virginianum)

 

View Plant

Rock Polypody

Creeping Juniper

(Juniperus horizontalis)

 

View Plant

Creeping Juniper

Labrador Tea

(Rhododendron groenlandicum)

 

View Plant

Labrador Tea

 

Moving inland, you might find sandy heath barrens, areas which could not be more different from the stereotypical idea of Canadian wilderness! Sand barrens have historically been generated by natural wild fires, but research in the Annapolis Valley suggests that in modern times, they've established themselves on abandoned farmland. These rare areas are now threatened by agriculture and ATV traffic. Pines, Poplars, and ericaceous plant species take root in these dry, nutrient-poor soils, as well as uncommon plants like the provincially endangered Canada Frostweed (Crocanthemum canadense).

 

Canada Frostweed. Photograph by Melinda Thompson.

 

The Acadian Forest continually offers surprises for anyone willing to look for them. For example, the endangered Eastern Mountain Avens (Geum peckii), which appears in two small disjunct locations on Digby Neck and Brier Island, popular whale-watching destinations in the Bay of Fundy. This plant exists on just one other location on earth -- alpine habitats in New Hampshire's White Mountains. We don't know why this special plant has chosen to persist in two very different habitats and nowhere else, but if we can continue to protect it and learn from it, it may have a lot to teach us.

 

LEARN MORE

 

A visit to the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens' constructed habitats (which they describe as 'living classrooms') in Wolfville, Nova Scotia would be an ideal way to start learning and exploring the Acadian Forest system. You could also go about this virtually by exploring observations and projects from this part of the world on iNaturalist.

 

If you're a plant person on the East Coast, you can help make the CanPlant database better reflect the biodiversity of these communities by submitting your plant photos. If you have any other suggestions or questions, let us know!

 

Further Reading

 

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Written by: Bianca Marcellino

 

Phenology can be described as the timing of key life history events that occur in a plant’s life such as emergence, reproduction or leaf drop.

 

A spring-blossoming tree bud

 

Factors such as warmer temperatures in the spring or day length (photoperiod), govern the timing of leaf emergence, bud burst, and leaf drop. Plants are highly adapted to these cues in their respective regions. When shifts occur due to factors like climate warming, it can result in an earlier emergence of spring, forcing plant phenological events to occur earlier in the year.

 

 

There is much diversity in the phenological responses of plants. Some may adapt their life history events to occur earlier in response to climatic shifts, while others may not. This can be problematic for ecosystem health if non-native plants adapt to this change and native plants do not. This scenario could reduce or eliminate introduced species’ native competitors, and could easily foster non-native propagation.

 

Earlier flowering of non-native species has been linked to their improved geographic spread. This allows the nonnative species the opportunity to establish itself in the new ecosystem and to more efficiently disperse its seeds, gaining a competitive advantage over native species.

 

 

Phenologically-assisted invasions by non-native species are often very difficult to control once they've become well-established within an ecological community. However, there are some strategies gardeners and the general public can employ to help prevent this. These strategies fall into two main categories:

 

Planting Strategies

  • Plant only native plants in your garden
  • Remove non-native/invasive plants when you come across them
  • Advise others to plant native species

 

Climate Change Response Strategies

  • Turn to renewable energy sources
  • Buy food from local, sustainable sources
  • Reduce the amount of waste you produce by opting to reuse more of your items
  • Recycle where possible

 

Prevention is often the best strategy when dealing with invasive species management. By choosing to plant native species, you are helping to prevent local establishment of non-native competitors. In this way, you're contributing to the maintainance and restoration of ecosystem balance in your community.

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Written by: Mary Anne Young

 

A small boulevard garden on a residential street in Guelph, Ontario

 

Summer is upon us in most of Canada (notwithstanding the snowfalls in my area of Ontario over the first week of May, and the recent hailstorm in Calgary) and many people's minds have turned to gardening. As such we're going to start peppering our blog entries with gardening and landscape design tips. One of CanPlant's staff received a question recently about boulevard gardens:

 

"Hey wondering if you might have recommendations on what to plant in a Boulevard. We had a crazy weed to take over that area, so it has now been dug out, and new soil is going in there. So, we are starting from fresh soil. As you know it would need to be very sun/heat tolerant, and obviously has dogs stepping on it and sometimes kids, as people walk by. One landscape friend suggested creeping thyme with lavender (for height and interest). Any other ideas?"

 

Boulevard gardens may seem easy at first – it is an open strip of land, free for the planting! However, in practice they can be a bit tricky due to difficult growing conditions and municipal restrictions.

 

First of all, it may seem obvious but I'm going to answer the question “what is a boulevard”?  Technically the word boulevard refers to a wide, tree-lined street. But in the context of this article the boulevard is the no-man's-land between the curb and the sidewalk on many urban and suburban streets. This area is within what is known as the road right-of-way, which is usually municipally owned land on either side of the road that is used for utilities (aboveground or underground). Boulevards are heavy-use areas which may be used for everything from piling snow, foot traffic, car drop-off areas, and dogs' rest stops.

 

Vegetation in boulevards usually consists of grass and generally one tree per property. There is a growing trend across Canada of residents planting boulevard gardens, thereby beautifying the street, providing additional nectar sources for pollinators, and contributing to heat island mitigation. Cities with growing boulevard garden traditions include Victoria, Vancouver, Kitchener, Toronto, and Halifax.

 

A newly planted and mulched boulevard garden in a residential neighbourhood

 

Boulevards tend to be difficult places to grow plants – the soil conditions are often poor, there is little shade, and there can be high salt levels from winter maintenance or pets. Therefore, plants should be chosen accordingly. The municipality may need at some point to dig up the bed, so woody plants like trees and shrubs should be avoided; this leaves hardy annual and perennial plants as the ideal boulevard species. You can also consider hard landscaping like rocks if they are small enough to be moved in the aforementioned occasional dig.

 

A boulevard garden on a busy urban streetCreating a new urban boulevard garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some sample native plant palettes that will work in boulevards in different places across Canada. These are all full sun gardens, have yellow or blue/purple colour palettes, and have maximum bloom later in the season:

 

Calgary

Alpine Aster

(Aster alpinus)

 

View Plant
 

Alpine Aster

Prairie Blue-eyed-grass

(Sisyrinchium campestre)

 

Photo by Peter Gorman under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

View Plant
 

Prairie Blue-eyed-grass

Silver Prairie Sage

(Artemisia ludoviciana)

 

Photo by Matt Lavin under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

View Plant
 

Silver Prairie Sage

Wild Bergamot

(Monarda fistulosa)

 

View Plant
 

Wild Bergamot

 

Toronto

Little Bluestem

(Schizachyrium scoparium)

 

View Plant
 

Little Bluestem

Silverweed

(Potentilla anserina)

 

Photo by ekenitr under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

View Plant
 

Silverweed

Sand Coreopsis

(Coreopsis lanceolata)

 

View Plant
 

Sand Coreopsis

Small Pussytoes

(Antennaria howelli)

 

View Plant
 

Small Pussytoes

Vancouver

Tufted Hairgrass

(Deschampsia cespitosa)

 

View Plant
 

Tufted Hairgrass

Philadephia Fleabane

(Erigeron philadelphicus)

View Plant
 

Fleabane

Pearly Everlasting

(Anaphalis margaritacea)

View Plant
 

Pearly Everlasting

Shrubby Cinquefoil

(Dasiphora fruticosa)

 

View Plant
 

Shrubby Cinquefoil

 

Before planting, you should have a utility locate completed to make sure you won't be digging into underground utilities (this is a free service in many areas) and call or check your municipality's website to see if there are any boulevard planting restrictions or free resources.

 

Native plant species within an urban boulevard garden

 

Have questions about using native plants in your gardening or landscape design project that you'd like to see highlighted in a future blog post? Send us a note using the form on the Contact Us page. We love hearing from our users.

 

Links

 

New Westminster

• ASK PAT: Bees and Boulevards

https://patrickjohnstone.ca/2019/07/ask-pat-bees-and-boulevards.html

 

Kitchener

• Recommendations for boulevard plantings in the City of Kitchener (PDF)

https://www.lovemyhood.ca/en/resourcesGeneral/Documents/CSD_NDO_Toolkit_Plant-List.pdf

 

Halifax

• Halifax council to discuss guidelines for boulevard gardens

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/boulevard-gardens-halifax-council-1.5327721

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Written by: Nicole White

 

Be on the lookout for native plant species at your supermarket garden centre: In Ontario, Loblaws has partnered with Carolinian Canada and the World Wildlife Foundation's In the Zone initiative to bring native plant stock into 35 stores across the province. This is exciting news, because it makes ecologically-sound gardening a little more accessible for our plant people in the Carolinian Zone!

 

Plants at a Zehrs garden centre

In the Zone plants sighted at a local Zehrs garden centre. Photo courtesy of Sofia Becerra.

 

We love initiatives like this, which make it easier to get locally-grown, ethically-sourced plants into the hands of gardeners. By supporting pollinators and other wildlife, and existing as an alternative to potentially invasive ornamentals, these plants can make a real contribution to the health of urban areas.

 

If you live in Southern Ontario, head out to one of these participating stores and demonstrate that there's consumer demand for native plant stock in mainstream retail outlets by buying some plants. Or if you arrive and they're all sold out, this might be a great time to ask when they'll be getting more!

 

CanPlant isn't affiliated with any of the businesses involved -- we just think that small steps like this could represent a positive shift in how Canadians relate to plants.

 

Here's an interactive map you can explore to find a participating store, and check out the nurseries that are supplying them.

 

 


Are you curious about what plants are available and what you can do with them? Check out CanPlant's species pages for a few of the plants being offered:

 

 

 

 

Pearly Everlasting

(Anaphalis margaritacea)

 

Great for:
Rooftop (drought tolerant/shallow rooted), Butterfly, and Prairie/Meadow gardens

 

View Plant
 

Pearly Everlasting

Swamp Milkweed

(Asclepias incarnata)

 

Great for:
Pond Edge/Wetland, Pond/Standing Water, and Butterfly gardens

 

View Plant

 

Swamp Milkweed

Prairie Smoke

(Geum triflorum)

 

Great for:
Butterfly and Prairie/Meadow gardens

 

View Plant

 

Prairie Smoke

Monkeyflower

(Mimulus ringens)

 

Great for:
Butterfly gardens

 

View Plant

 

Monkeyflower

Blue Lobelia

(Lobelia siphilitica)

 

Great for:
Pond Edge/Wetland and Woodland gardens

 

View Plant

 

Blue Lobelia

Maidenhair Fern

(Adiantum pedantum)

 

Great for:
Woodland gardens

 

View Plant

 

Maidenhair Fern

Woodland Sunflower

(Helianthus divaricatus)

 

Great for:
Woodland and Rooftop gardens (drought tolerant/shallow rooted)

 

View Plant

 

Woodland Sunflower

Wild Columbine

(Aquilegia canadensis)

 

Great for:
Rooftop (drought tolerant/shallow rooted), Bird, and Woodland gardens

 

View Plant

 

Wild Columbine

Switch Grass

(Panicum virgatum)

 

Great for:
Rooftop (drought tolerant/shallow rooted), Bird, and Prairie/Meadow gardens

 

View Plant

 

Switch Grass

Virginia Bluebell

(Mertensia virginica)

 

Great for:
Woodland and Prairie/Meadow gardens

 

View Plant

 

Virginia Bluebell

 

If you'd like to share what's going on in your own zone to help people engage with ecologically-friendly gardening practices, please Contact Us and let us know!

 

Further Reading:

 

• Where to Find Native Plants - In The Zone

 

• Loblaws In The Zone Species List

 

• CanPlant Blog: Why Choose Native?

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Written by: Nicole White

Kiki Dann is a lifelong gardener, workshop instructor, and passionate native plant lover. Project coordinator for Polli-Patches, a pilot project of Yorklands Green Hub that aims to get East Guelph, Ontario, residents involved and excited about our pollinator species, by planting, maintaining, and observing a mini-native plant pollinator garden (and creating nesting sites/habitats for pollinators).

 

During a socially-distanced backyard visit,  Kiki told me all about what's growing and living in her fabulous urban garden!

Photo of Kiki with a sunflower

 

 

Q: How did you become interested in gardening and using native plants?

 

A: I'm a lifelong gardener. I started getting into native plants when I was working with an organic gardening company who tried to get their customers to garden with purpose as opposed to just having something that looked nice.

 

I really love native plants. They're very beautiful and a lot of them have species of wildlife and insects that depend on them. These are called specialists – for example: some bees will only eat the nectar of specific flowers, and monarch butterflies only use milkweed as host plants for their caterpillars. Ants, beetles, and flies can also be pollinators!

 

Q: What's growing in your garden and what benefits does it provide?

 

A: I have some Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger) growing here. See how the flowers lay flat on the ground: this is so ants and other insects can walk right in! It's also a spreading groundcover that's really good in deep shade, so it's a great alternative to hostas, or to invasives like Periwinkle and Goutweed.

 

Wild Ginger will take dry shade very well, but it does prefer moisture. It's drought tolerant to a degree, and it fills up a place slowly and steadily without being too aggressive.

 

The blossom of Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger)

Wild Ginger

 

View Plant

 

I just planted some Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) today. These are slow to establish, but once they flower, they're beautiful bright orange. They also smell good!

 

Newly transplanted and watered Butterflyweed plants in a mulched garden bed

Butterflyweed

 

View Plant

 

Another plant in my garden that smells great is Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells), which is one of my favourite spring flowers.

 

I have some Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit) growing on my walkway. It's seemed to have popped up randomly around this Hosta and is jumping up everywhere!

 

Close-up of Jack in the Pulpit in bloom

 

Jack in the Pulpit

 

View Plant

 

I've also planted some Anthoxanthum nitens (Sweetgrass), which I remember my grandma braiding when I was little. I'm told with the right amount of moisture and sun this plant can get a little aggressive, but I don't think that will happen where I've planted it.

 

A small patch of Sweetgrass

 

Sweetgrass

 

View Plant

 

Q: What else have you done to create habitat in your backyard?

 

I'm trying to make sure there are nesting sites for pollinators in my garden. I have areas that I try to keep muddy because most of our native bees are ground-nesting, and some of them like to nest in mud. Mulch is good because you can conserve water and keep down weeds, but if you leave some areas bare close to foraging sites, it provides habitat for the bees and other insects.

 

Usually toward the back of my garden I'll allow weeds to grow a little bit and leave it undisturbed within reason.

 

A person holding a friendly snake

A friendly backyard visitor!

 

What are the challenges and rewards of growing native plants?

 

You can't really grow natives in a heated greenhouse like you would geraniums or tomatoes. Some plants need to be seeded in the fall, some need a cold stratification period, and in some cases, using fertilizer can damage them.

 

A small Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry) shrub

 

Nannyberry

 

View Plant

 

One reason some people don't get into natives is that they don't want to rip out their entire garden and replace it with all native species. That's not really affordable for a lot of people and natives aren't always as easy to find or as showy. People want their garden to look pretty and be low-maintenance – which native plants can be – but, it means more work at the beginning: my Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry) is two years old, and it's still very small. One reason people love gardening is because of the joy it brings, so I think it's fine to mix in your favourites along with natives.

 

Tell me about Polli-Patches!

 

A: Polli-Patches is a pilot project I'm coordinating in Guelph with Yorklands Green Hub. It's aiming to get people involved in native plant gardening with an emphasis on pollinators and wildlife support.

 

Potted plants to be used in the Polli-Patches project

 

We give participants five to seven pollinator plants, including a shrub. We also give people information and recommend resources like Bumblebee Watch and iNaturalist. Then they can start observing the pollinators that are coming around.

 

The challenge we give them is to figure out where they can fill in the gaps in their garden next year, how they can expand their garden, and how they can add things to their garden to benefit wildlife or even themselves. For example, some people are getting Saskatoon Berry shrubs. Those are great!

 

I think this is where CanPlant is helpful – I want people to understand where they can fill in those gaps – so, for example, if they have nothing blooming in August, they can research and explore species blooming in August that support pollinators and are native to their region.

 

Thanks to the generous donation of Pollination Guelph, we got a grant to do this community project. We're completely maxed out on participants right now. We'd love to do more!  Next year we're hoping to get more funding and expand the project.

 

I'd love to do what B.C. did and make a pollinator pathway – so, throughout the whole city there could be little gardens and resting places for pollinators. The biggest issue pollinators face is habitat loss. They need water and someplace to rest. You can put a bowl in your yard and fill it with marbles, rocks, or even a floating leaf so they can drink water and get through the city.

 

I never thought I'd like native plants – I always liked very showy ornamentals – but native plants are just something else! They're very beautiful and I just love watching the variety of visitors.

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

By: Summer Graham

 

The topic of shifting native plant ranges touches on many of the themes that have been (or will be) covered on the CanPlant blog page. What classifies a plant as “native”? How is the climate changing, and what does this change mean for ecology? What is the connection between native wildlife and native plant species? Each of these topics can be difficult to dissect on their own. Mix them together, and the picture becomes even more blurred.

 

Let’s start with what we know. As the climate changes and global temperature warms, it might be expected that species will move “up” (north and/or to higher elevations) to remain in environments that suit their traits. A study in California found just that, but they also found some more concerning evidence. While both plants and animals were found to be shifting their ranges, wildlife was doing so at a much faster rate (Wolf et al. 2016).

 

Over the past century, only 12% of native plant species are moving ranges upwards at a significant rate (Wolf et al. 2016). Even more alarming, a greater proportion of non-native and invasive species (27%) were on the move, causing concern that as native species move upwards, they will find would-be suitable habitats already colonized by non-native species (Wolf et al. 2016). This combination of factors means that the faster moving wildlife will find themselves in potentially unsuitable, non-native habitat, and this breakdown of ecological relationships could have unknown consequences for species survival.  

 

Current (1971–2000) versus projected (2071–2100) climate suitability zone of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides). Image courtesy of Natural Resources Canada.

Current (1971–2000) versus projected (2071–2100) climate suitability zone of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides). Image courtesy of Natural Resources Canada.

 

The results of a warming climate may not be consistent across the globe, however. Bezeng et al. (2017) found that in parts of South Africa, climate change may actually result in a reduction of area suitable for current invasive species that are present on the landscape. However, there were some species that showed potential to expand ranges due to changes, and there is also the opportunity for new invaders to appear when shifts occur (Bezeng et al. 2017). 

 

So, where do we go from here? If we accept that species (especially native ones) might not be able to move and adapt fast enough to survive the current shift in appropriate habitat, what (if anything) can we do?

 

Assisted migration is the human-assisted movement of species (plants or animals) to more suitable habitats, and it is a widely debated topic in terms of risk, viability, resources, and ethics. In Canada, many provinces and territories already have seed transfer guidelines for planting of seed from certain regions to ensure genetics are suitable for an area (NRC 2016). B.C. and Alberta are two examples of jurisdictions that have modified these guidelines by extending seed transfer zones 200 metres higher in elevation, effectively taking a small step towards assisted migration (NRC 2016).

 

Assisted migration can be done on multiple scales, each with their own level of risk. The lowest risk option is assisted population migration, where species are only moved within their historic or known range. Then there is assisted range expansion, where species are established just outside their established range, but to areas that would feasibly be expanded to through natural dispersal methods such as wind, water, or dispersal by animals. The highest risk is associated with assisted long-distance migration, where species are moved to areas far outside a “natural” dispersal area.

 

Regardless of the scale on which it is implemented, assisted migration should be backed by research on species genetics, viability in an introduced area, natural dispersal, and the risk posed by introducing or moving certain species. Although this process may be slow, it is likely still faster than allowing species to move at a natural pace, and we may reduce the risk of important native species being left behind.

 

Additional Reading:

Climate Central. “Climate Change is Leaving Native Plants Behind.”

 

National Geographic. “Half of All Species are on the Move – And We’re Feeling It.”

 

Yale Environment 360. “As World Warms, How Do We Decide When a Plant is Native? “  

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn