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Written by: Manpreet Dhaliwal 

 
National Forest Week

 

Welcome to National Forest Week! Have you never heard of it? Well, let me tell you a little bit about it. For one week in September every year, the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CFI) takes the opportunity to raise awareness and educate about the Canadian forest sector, as well as the important social, 

environmental, and economic role that this resource plays in our daily lives.

 

This year, they are encouraging people of all ages to participate in activities such as photo and youth drawing contests, and "Treevia Tuesday" to celebrate our national forests. Interested in participating? Check out the CFI website for more information on campaigns and other resources. This year, I decided to participate by answering the question "What does the forest give you?"

 

 

 

What does the forest give you?

 

It's a difficult thing to put into words because it's as unique to me as the meaning of life; it is indescribable how much forests give to us, and I couldn't be more grateful for the forest's contribution to my survival every day. Especially when you learn how 6 million trees are planted on Ontario public land each year, and how at 10 acres of forest per person, we have more access to forests than any other country. The most exciting part of it all is knowing that as of 2017, Canadian forestry operations, planting enhancement, and planting initiatives removed 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from our own backyard. We have the potential to reduce carbon dioxide by 50 million tonnes by 2050 if we continue to use greater sustainable forest management like this during the coming years.

 

Every Tree Counts

 

After learning this, I took a step back and asked myself, "How can I contribute to future emission reductions while also giving the gift of trees to future generations?" I had no idea where to begin, but as I worked through my research and consulted my network, I became more familiar with the Canplant database and all the resources it offered. I was able to collaborate with local sustainability and environmental groups in the Kitchener Waterloo Region to raise awareness of the trees and plant species that local organizations and residents could plant on their properties.

 

IT’S YOUR TURN

 

Now I'd like to ask you to pay it forward by planting a tree and sharing your hopes for future generations. If you're not sure where to start, check out the CanPlant database to see what plants you might be able to grow in your area. Do you require funding for a project? The CanPlant team has compiled a list of grant opportunities to assist you in getting started with your project to plant trees and other native plants.

 

Source:

"Our Roots, Forest" -https://www.ccfm.org/releases/our-roots-our-future/

Carbon Visuals: carbonvisuals.com

 

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Written by: Summer Graham 

 

On September 9th I attended the online webinar “Gardening for the Birds” with Kevin Kavanagh and hosted by North American Native Plant Society (NANPS). The webinar was targeted at individuals interested in selecting native species for their gardens that would help support bird populations. Even as someone with over 5 years of experience in the field of ecology and with an interest in native plants, I found myself learning new information and gaining valuable lessons from the presentation.

 

The webinar was recorded, and you will be able to view it on the NANPS website in the coming weeks, but if you don’t have the time or prefer to read, I’ve provided a summary of some key take-aways below!

 

Benefits of Gardens

One of the first topics covered in the webinar was the benefits of gardens and what your garden can provide for local wildlife. Your garden, when planned correctly, can support breeding (species that come to an area during the breeding season to nest), resident birds (birds that remain in the area throughout most of their lifecycles), and non-resident or migratory birds travelling long distances (species that are just passing through in spring and fall). It is also important to remember that when we improve the landscape for birds, we also provide habitat for a variety of other wildlife as well.

 

For example, look at Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin). You may plant this attractive species to help support birds who are attracted to the seeds like Wood Thrush, but you are also supporting other species, including many insects like the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Spicebush Silkmoth, and Spicebush Swallowtail.   

 

In terms of overall benefits to birds, your yard can provide:

  • Easy access to a bounty of food without the need to expend excess energy searching,
  • Habitat for breeding and nesting,
  • Shelter from predators or weather events while migrating and,
  • Access to clean water

 

Selection of Species

Ideally, the species you select for your garden will:

  1. Be native to your region and occur naturally in your local area and,
  2. Occur naturally in habitat with conditions that mimic those present in your yard.

 

Note: Gardens and yards are often drier than adjacent natural areas. Just because a species is found in a ravine near your house doesn’t mean it wants to be in your yard!

 

Check out the CanPlant “Find my Ecozone” page to learn more about what grows in your region. Remember, just because a species is native to your province or territory doesn’t mean it belongs in your ecozone! Try and keep it as locally appropriate as possible.

 

Birds and other wildlife respond to habitat, not just species. For example, you may attract a few more birds to your yard by planting a single, native shrub, but you will attract far more if you introduce multiple species and habitat features to the area. This is important to remember when you plan your yard, as you have an opportunity to provide habitat that isn’t available in adjacent yards or natural areas around you.

 

For example, maybe you live next to a forest that has plenty of mature trees but lacks a shrubby understory. By planting shrubs and other bushes in your yard, you attract species that are looking for shelter or for nesting locations closer to the ground.

 

Or perhaps your neighbors have a wonderful prairie pollinator garden, but don’t have a water feature? By adding a pond to your garden, you will provide a water source for birds and other wildlife that are already in the area.

 

Another thing to consider is how you can provide food, shelter, and water year-round, not just in the warmer months. You can do this by planning and diversifying the species in your yard, so flowers, berries, and seeds are available during different seasons.

 

Food

Although the list of native species for wildlife is extensive, below is a summary of different plants you might consider based on your location (most of these species are suitable for southern Ontario) and the types of birds you are looking to attract. For more detail on what to plant for certain species, check out the Birds Canada site BirdGardens.ca!

 

Fruit

There are several species you can plant that produce fruit for birds including:

Small/medium sized seeds

Many of these native plants flower and attract native pollinators while also acting as egg hosts. Be sure not to deadhead (remove old flower heads to try and encourage a second bloom) or cut back the plants until birds have taken advantage of the many seeds!

Nuts

Larger trees like our native Oak (Quercus sp.) and Hickory (Carya sp.) species produce nuts and acorns perfect for larger species like woodpeckers. 

 

Nectar

Nectar feeders, like Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, benefit from spring to fall blooms. A combination of Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans), and Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) would be a feast for them!

 

Cone seeds

White Pine (Pinus strobus) is probably the best native species for attracting birds that feed on cone seeds. Make sure you have enough room in your yard before planting though!

 

Insects

Native Willows (Salix sp.) are ideal for attracting warblers that feed on native insects. By flowering early, willows provide habitat for many native insects in the spring when warblers are migrating back from the south.

 

Habitat

When aiming to provide habitat, it was suggested earlier to look at surrounding areas (but not necessarily staking out your neighbours’ gardens!) for features that may be missing on the landscape scale that you can add to your yard.

 

You should also consider letting leaves stay on your yard rather than tidying them up, as this provides habitat for insects and will attract species such as Northern Flicker that like to forage on the ground for food. If you can, set out some decomposing logs or stumps to provide additional habitat, as well as a perching spot for ground foraging species to hop up on and check their surroundings for predators while they feed.

Water

A water feature can be a great addition to a wildlife garden but be sure it includes the right characteristics to maximize its benefit to local species!

  • Edges that slope down to the water to allow for drinking,
  • Sticks and logs across smaller features to provide perches and sharing of the feature,
  • Trickling sounds to attract wildlife and indicate that fresh water is present and,
  • Shallow end for bathing.  

Most importantly, keep your water feature clean! Wildlife won’t use it if they sense something is “off”, and diseases can be spread through features shared by many animals.

 

 

Make it Happen!

All this information might be overwhelming, and you might not know where to start. The best advice is to START SMALL! You don’t have to transform your backyard into a bird paradise overnight, and in terms of budget, time, and commitment, it’s probably best if you don’t. Look to plant a couple native shrubs, and introduce a few habitat features at a time.

 

Once those species are well established and require less care to thrive, move on to the next thing. By taking on too much at one time, you risk burnout and might become unmotivated to continue if plants start to die and your yard becomes more like a desert than an oasis.

 

Once you are ready to get started, head to our Native Plant Nursery Finder to discover local places to purchase your plants! 

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Written by: Bianca Marcellino

 

 

The Tundra biome is characterized by extreme cold weather, low biotic diversity and precipitation levels, short growing seasons, low-growing vegetation of simple structure, and nutrients available mostly in the form of dead organic matter. Only a small portion of the permafrost thaws each growing season, called the active layer, which limits the vegetation to low shrubs, sedges, flowering plants, and mosses, all with shallow roots and short reproductive cycles. 

 

In recent decades, the Tundra has rapidly warmed causing a variety of environmental effects including: melting sea ice resulting in increased water levels, shifting vegetation ranges, and release of CO2 stored in the permafrost. Presently, northern Tundra soils hold ~30% of the total soil organic carbon, which with the continued increase in temperature expected to occur over the next decades, threatening the release of this carbon sink; has alarmed the scientific community and gained the name the “Carbon Bomb”.

 

The warming temperatures may promote the expansion of the Canadian population into previously sparse areas such as the Tundra, fostered by the increased ability of the Tundra to support a greater abundance of vegetation (Deslippe 2011). This activity serves to counteract the lurking prospect of the carbon bomb ‘explosion’; however, the warming temperatures are also expected to drive native Arctic species further North if they are unable to adapt to the warming climate of their original regions. It is unclear whether the release of atmospheric carbon through the thawing of the permafrost will result in the Tundra becoming a carbon source via heightened microbial activity, or remain a carbon sink through increased vegetation growth.

 


The question arises - is it possible to plant native Arctic plants, which are well adapted to the current Tundra climate, as a mitigation strategy to help combat the “Carbon Bomb”? This could act to support Artic herbivores and their subsequent food webs, and potentially help to limit their displacement to more Northern areas, but may be impractical given the scale of the Canadian arctic and the limitations in our knowledge of how arctic ecosystems are being impacted by climate change.

 

This uncertainty clearly identifies the need for further study of Canada’s arctic in order to find the best tools to combat the carbon bomb.

 

 

Additonal Reading

 

National Geographic - Tundra Threats Explained

The Narwhal - Arctic tundra is 80 per cent permafrost. What happens when it thaws?

Sciencing - Plant Adaptations in the Tundra 

 

References

 

Deslippe, J. R., M. Hartmann, W. W. Mohn and S. W. Simard. 2011.  Long-term experimental manipulation of climate alters the ectomycorrhizal community of Betula nana in Arctic tundra. Global Change Biology. 17:1625-1636.

 

Gilg, O., K. M. Kovacs, J. Aars, J. Fort, G. Gauthier, D. Grémillet, R. A. Ims, H. Meltofte, J. Moreau, E. Post, N. M. Schmidt, G. Yannic and L. Bollache. 2012. Climate change and the ecology and evolution of Arctic vertebrates. The Year in Ecology and Conservation Biology 1249:166-190.

 

Steiglitz, M., A. Giblin, J. Hobbie, M. Williams and G. Kling. 2000. Stimulating the effects of climate change variability on carbon dynamics in Arctic tundra. Global Biochemical Cycles 14:1123-1136.

 

Treat, C. C. and S. Frolking. 2013. A permafrost carbon bomb? Nature Climate Change 3:865-867.

 

UC Berkeley Biomes Group, S. Pullen and K. Ballard. 2004. The Tundra Biome. Berkeley University of California.  Berkeley, CA, USA.

 
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Written by: Summer Graham

 

 

Title: Bringing Nature Home - How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants (updated and expanded)

Author: Douglas W. Tallamy, forward by Rick Darke

Length: 360 pages (paperback)

Formats Available: paperback, audiobook, and E-book

 

 

 

 

I first encountered a reference to Douglas Tallamy’s “Bringing Nature Home” while I was reading an article on the issue of invasive Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) dominating the unique ravine ecosystem in Toronto, Ontario. As someone who feels as though they are constantly struggling to find the right words to explain the threats invasive and non-native species pose to the environment, the book quickly went to the top of my “must-read” list. In this updated and expanded version of his book, Tallamy sets out to inspire the every-day, suburban gardener to look critically at the species they use in their gardens, and then make changes to support our native wildlife.

 

Tallamy is a professor at the University of Delaware in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology. He has authored over 80 research publications and lectured on a variety of topics for 36 years, including insect taxonomy, insect ecology, humans and nature, and behavioral ecology. In “Bringing Nature Home” Tallamy shares much of his knowledge on one of his primary research goals, understanding the way insects interact with vegetation and how this can determine and impact wildlife communities.

 

Although covering fairly heavy topics such as habitat loss, urban development, and drastic declines in species populations, Tallamy writes in a tone that is light and easy to read even though it is based on facts and scientific studies. The numerous, colourful photographs depicting native flora and fauna help to inspire the reader with visions of what their garden could be, and the wildlife it could support, with just a few easy changes. Tallamy also writes of personal experiences and his work transforming his own property, which in my opinion gives him even more credibility on the topic (if any is needed!).

 

One of my favourite sections is the final one, “Answers to Tough Questions”. Here you can find content addressing those tricky questions, ones you might come up against when trying to explain to your Aunt why she shouldn’t plant a Norway Maple in her back yard, or convincing your father of the importance of removing European Common Reed (Phragmites australis australis) from the pond in his woods. Believe me, once you have read “Bringing Nature Home” and start making changes in your own backyard, you will soon want to buy a copy for every friend and family member to help your efforts multiply. The review on the front of the book says it all, “If you have a backyard, this book is for you”.

 

Resources

 

Bringing Nature Home Website

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Written by: Bianca Marcellino

 

Pollinators are organisms that feed on flowering plants and in return, help plants to reproduce by spreading pollen from flower to flower and aiding in plant fertilization; this interaction is arguably the most important mutualism relationships on Earth. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, some beetles, birds and bats. Pollinators help to sustain ecosystems and produce natural resources such as many forms of produce for human and animal consumption. The protection of the world’s pollinators and all the ecosystems they service is of global importance, as pollinators are responsible for pollinating more than 180,000 plant species and 1200 crops, which can be broken down to 1 in every 3 bites of food you take relying on pollinators. Quantitatively, they contribute over 217 billion dollars to the global economy, in addition to providing the world with non-monetary ecosystem services as described above. 

 

Unfortunately, pollinators, particularity bees, have been on an alarming decline in recent years. Currently, there is thought to be no single cause for their decline, but a synergism of effects that each contribute including habitat loss, pesticide use, pathogens and intensive farming practices such as mono-cropping limiting pollinators’ food source diversity.

 

Although it seems like these issues will require large-scale, commercial solutions and ample funds to resolve, backyard flower planting is one way that everyday Canadians can help to ensure pollinators have food sources in urban areas. By planting a variety of flowering plants, it allows pollinators to have access to a diverse food source, fostering healthy immune systems. Opting to plant native plant species is often a good option as they are already a known, stable food source for the pollinators and other native insects and wildlife species.

 

Late summer to early fall blooming plants are important to pollinators so they can store enough food for themselves to successfully overwinter. Some native later-blooming garden flowers include:

 

Black-eyed Susan

(Rudbeckia hirta)

View Species


Tall Goldenrod

(Solidago altissima)

View Species

 

Zig Zag Goldenrod

(Solidago flexicaulis)

View Species

 

Tickseed

(Coreopsis lanceolata)

View Species


Coneflower

(Echinacea purpurea)

View Species


Sunflower

(Helianthus divaricatus)

View Species

 

Not only do flowers help pollinators to survive, but they make wonderful additions to any garden!

 

Additional Reading 

 

Pollinator Partnership - 7 Things You Can Do for Pollinators

 

Seeds of Diversity - Protecting Pollinators

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Written by: Nicole White

 

World Wildlife Day logo - Stylized globe with silhouettes of plants and animals

 

This year's UN World Wildlife Day celebrates forest-based livelihoods worldwide with the theme  'Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet'.

 

I grew up a family who hunted, fished, and worked in the woods. Later, like many young Canadians, I laboured as a piecework tree planter in the Boreal Forest. But even people I know who have lived their lives in Canada's most urban neighbourhoods feel a connection to woodlands—for example, my Torontonian friends who feel a sense of integration when they visit High Park, the ravines of the Don River, or the Rouge Valley.

 

Forests are a cornerstone of Canadian life.  Everywhere, plants, microbes, birds, fish and a myriad of other creatures—including us—exist as part of a rich biological schema including forests. In Canada, forests sustain our culture, economy, spirituality, and livelihoods in ways that make this land and its people what they are.

 

Thirty-nine percent of Canada's land is forest, and this represents 9% of the world's total forests. The future is unwritten, but these numbers tell us that state of Canadian forests is a major variable in how climate change will play out worldwide.

 

Of course, it's a given that the changes we're already seeing—including severe wildfires, loss of ecological diversity, and the proliferation of invasive species that threaten tree populations—are expected to become more extreme in the coming years.

 

Adding to this, economic changes due to the pandemic, evolving consumer demands (for example, the decline of print newspapers and magazines), and international competition show that the preexisting commercial relationship between Canadian forests and people won't be the way of the future.

 

World Wildlife Day 2021 poster by Gabe Wong - Illustration of Indigenous people, plants, and animals from different cultures

 

Increasingly, many Canadians are recognizing what forests give them, and asking what they can do in return. To me, this year's World Wildlife Day theme (and this inspired illustration for the event by Gabe Wong) expresses a hope that our global communities are affirming their relationships with forests and finding constructive ways forward that honour our interdepedence.

 

What's happening right now in Canada to support this? Our country's issues are diverse and so multifaceted, but these are a few trends I've noticed recently:

 

Indigenous Forestry

Indigenous forest management systems offer expertise informed by thousands of years' experience working with this land. The most recent Canadian census reported that 70% of Indigenous people in Canada live in or near forests. (I've also seen similar statistics for other parts of the world, and globally.) Increasingly, Indigenous people are reclaiming portions of their original territories and asserting their right to participate in self-governance, including forest management.

 

Indigenous involvement in sustainable natural resource management is helping to bring socio-economic benefits to communities and maintain cultural, recreational, and spiritual connections to the land. As reported beautifully in the National Observer, residents of B.C.'s Tŝilhqot'in Nation are using clean energy to develop a new land, water, and wildlife management area, supporting self-determination within their communities.

 

Coastal Guardian Watchmen also provide a model for what responsible land stewardship can look like in Haida Gwaii.

 

It's exciting to see collaborative efforts undertaken to synergize traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and settlers' science-based understanding of nature as complementary information systems.

 

In a recent lecture, Indigenous scholar and assistant professor Myrle Ballard at the University of Manitoba described how Indigenous expertise can inform scientific work.

 

The viewpoint has also been expressed poetically in the best-selling Braiding Sweetgrass, by botanist Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, who espouses radical gratitude to nature by asking that humans consider the question, 'What can I  give in return for the gifts of the earth?'

 

Designing for Forest Health

Landscape architects and horticulturalists are inventing and adapting design models that enhance vitality for people and forests.

 

Miyawaki Forests: Image of tree with captions: Stores carbon, Feeds life, Builds soil, Counters climate change, Cools heat island, Improves health, Cleans air, Dampens sound pollution, Intercepts rainfall, Offers habitat

 

Planting individual trees is great, but what if you could fast-track the growth of a mini forest community in your neighbourhood? CanPlant is piloting a new project on using the Miyawaki Forest technique to do just that in Canada.

 

Wise Use of New Technology

Emerging technologies have their place in this work:

 

Remote sensing and artifical intelligence can give us new eyes in the sky to monitor our expansive Boreal Forest for extreme wildfires.

 

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis and interpretitive web cartography are being used to understand and educate Canadians about the value of our northern peatlands.

 

Ex-situ conservation methods carried out in sterile labs are providing hope for at-risk species, with researchers developing tissue culture and seed banking methodologies to preserve genetically unique local flora.

 

Education

I think that Gen Z will grow up more attuned to ecological issues than any previous generation. One educational resource I noticed recently is this kid-friendly website, which includes a colouring book, advocating for the conservation of Wisqoq (Black Ash) populations in our eastern forests.

 

Black Ash

(Fraxinus nigra)

Black Ash is native to Eastern Canada and is used in traditional basket weaving. Populations are currently under threat due to the proliferation of Emerald Ash Borer.

 

View on CanPlant

Black Ash

 

This blog post is a snapshot of my personal reflections, and I'm sure I don't have all the pieces of the puzzle. Maybe you have something to add about how Canadians and forests can work together, or where this is all going.  Do you know of something I should have mentioned here? Let us know!

 

For more information about World Wildlife Day events, which include a film festival, check out the offical website.

 

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Written by: Heather Schibli


The benefits of planting trees have been well documented. In fact, several cities have adopted policies to increase urban tree canopy percentages. However, these plantings are typically reserved to publicly owned lands. How can we best maximize the urban canopy? Planting individual trees helps, but what if we could reintroduce forests within our communities?

 

Trees perform one of the most effective strategies to counter the rise of carbon dioxide emissions by sequestering photosynthetic carbon. A recent study has found that the world’s forests sequestered about twice as much carbon dioxide as they emitted over the last two decades. And yet, over these same two decades, global forest cover diminished by 99,119,000 hectares. Many initiatives, inspired by global assessments of tree and forest capacity to curtail emissions, have been proposed to mitigate climate change through tree planting.

 

Miyawaki Forests (MF), small scale densely planted native urban forests, have been successfully grown on private properties in Japan and elsewhere for more than forty years. The Miyawaki Forest method of planting, named for the botanist who developed it,  encourages tree communities to grow upward and to share resources, while the dense structure dissuades human interference. This process of urban afforestation in tight spaces can accelerate climax forest establishment from 100+ years down to 20 years by skipping earlier stages of succession.

 

Consisting of late succession species planted into richly prepared soils, these forest plots boast a minimum diversity of 30 locally native species divided into four structural layer categories; Canopy trees, sub-canopy trees, arborescent trees (small understory trees), and shrubs.

 

The Miyawaki Method

 

Miyawaki Forests are not replacements for our natural forests, but rather, a means to reforest urban and ecologically degraded settings that in turn provide:

 

• Added greenery

• Improved air quality

• Surface stormwater runoff mitigation

• A counter to heat island effect

• Habitat

• And a reduction in noise pollution.


With support from the Landscape Architecture Foundation of Canada (LACF), and in partnership with Carolinian Canada Coalition and Green Venture, CanPlant is piloting a study on Miyawaki Forest establishment in Canada. Our study is well timed! Not only do trees abate climate change, they also benefit human health.

 

There is a growing body of research that supports the link between connections with nature and human wellbeing. This has become increasingly apparent during 2020 with the implementation of ‘lock-down’ policies to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Trends in Canada point to loneliness, anxiety and/or lethargy linked to isolation and increased indoor time. Subsequently, Canadians who reported having more exercise outdoors benefited from better mental health. This is consistent with trends in Europe, and the argument that COVID-19 should be the impetus for creating more green space in urban areas.

 

Our climate and biodiversity crises stem in part from our manipulation of the landscape. Be it extracting crude oil, introducing invasive species, or flattening forests, our profound alteration of our planet’s landscapes has led to astonishing outcomes. It is time we reintroduce what has been stripped by replanting our forests in an effort to heal from the ecological trauma we have caused.

 

Whether grown in public or private spaces, establishing Miyawaki Forests could be part of this solution. It is our hope that this pilot study will help launch a movement of these urban forest plantings across Canada.

 

Successes attributed to MFs include rapid growth and self-sustenance post establishment period. The proven successes of MF establishment, health, vigour, and longevity have inspired CanPlant to assist various environmental organizations test and implement Miyawaki Forest theories and practices in Canada.

 

If you or someone you know is considering planting a Miyawaki Forest, let us know! We would love to collaborate!

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Written by: Christina Myrdal

 

Known for its sweet sap and brightly coloured leaves in the fall, Sugar Maple is an abundant and ecologically unique species in the hardwood forests of eastern North America.

 

Sugar Maple is a relatively slow-growing, large shade tree that can grow in a variety of habitats, from forest/woodland to meadows and savannahs. This species is fairly sensitive to pollution, drought and salt, and grows best where soil water is abundant to facilitate sap production.

 

Sugar Maple leaves are palmate with five lobes and its flowers are yellowish-green, long-stalked dropping clusters. It can often be confused for Norway Maple (Acer platanoides), a non-native species, however Norway Maple has white sap which can be observed by pulling a leaf off at the petiole.  Here are some additional facts about Sugar Maple:

  • Form: Tree (deciduous)
  • Size: 20-35 m tall
  • Sun/Shade: Full sun to full shade
  • Soil: Sand, Loam, Humus enriched
  • Habitat: Forest, Woodland, Savannah, Forest Edge, Prairie/Meadow/Field, Riparian
  • Canadian Distribution: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (see map)

 

Sugar Maple

(Acer saccharum)

 

View Species

 

Sugar Maple is unique in that it requires cold winter temperatures, well below freezing, for proper dormancy. It also requires a very low temperature to initiate seed germination, approximately 1°C on average, which is the lowest of any other forest species. Its requirement for cold winters and warm summers is why it is so prevalent in eastern Canada and the northeastern US. Warming temperatures in recent years due to climate change are threatening more southern distribution of Sugar Maple that rely on these cold winters, which over time may lead to a northern shift in its geographical range.   This could potentially have devastating economic impacts to the US maple syrup industry.

 

Sugar Maple has always been an important economic asset to Canada, with Quebec and Ontario being two of the largest maple syrup producers worldwide. During the 2019 season, Quebec alone harvested 12 million gallons of syrup (that’s about 480 million gallons of sap!) It is no wonder why Canada is world-renowned for our maple products.

 

If you live in Ontario, you may be interested to know that you can find the oldest known Sugar Maple in Pelham (Niagara Region) at Comfort Maple Conservation Area. The trunk is a whopping 6 metres in diameter, and it is estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old!

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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! 

 

 

 

 
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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

 

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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.

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