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

Written by: Nicole White

 

People used to view wetlands as a waste of space: they can't be built, they can't be easily traversed by boat, and they aren't profitable for most types of agriculture. So why are wetlands so important?

 

Now we're learning that wetlands are some of the most biologically productive sites on our planet. They hold water in times of flood or drought, purify the environment, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. I've heard them called 'Nature's Kidneys'. They sustain life by providing essential year-round or seasonal habitat for many species of fish, birds, and other animals. They are also home to plant communities found nowhere else, and have a breathtaking beauty all their own.

 

Events like World Wetlands Day (Sunday, February 2) work to shift these attitudes, and effect change.

 

As a small celebration of World Wetlands Day, I conducted an informal poll of my ecologist colleagues to find out what everyone's favourite wetland plant was. The results were fun and I hope our appreciation of these plants inspires you to learn more about them:

 

Marsh Marigold

(Caltha palustris)

'I love Marsh Marigold because the flowers are like little bursts of sunlight when walking through a wetland or swampy woods.'

 

View Plant

Marsh Marigold

Turtlehead

(Chelone glabra)

'Mostly because it looks like a turtle!'

 

View Plant

Turtlehead

Bog Buckbean

(Menyanthes trifoliata)

'Bog Buckbean looks like a giant clover, and I've found it in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.'

 

View Plant

Bog Buckbean

 

Buttonbush

(Cephalanthus occidentalis)

'The flowers are just so striking... and look like pom-poms or fireworks. They're such a lovely surprise to find.'

 

View Plant

Buttonbush

Skunk Cabbage

(Symplocarpus foetidus)

'Foul-smelling but a very reliable groundwater seepage indicator; quite unusual in that its flowers can actually melt the snow so that it can get a head start on flowering and pollination by flies and beetles in the early spring.'

 

View Plant

Skunk Cabbage

Any Type of Bladderwort

(Utricularia cornuta shown here)

'They have beautiful flowers, they float on the water surface and they eat bugs. I think that's pretty neat.'

 

View Plant

Horned Bladderwort

 

Cranberry

(Vaccinium macrocarpon)

'It reminds me of Thanksgiving at my family cottage.'

 

View Plant

Cranberry

Common Pipewort

(Eriocaulon aquaticum)

'Stands of common pipewort look like drifts of delicate white pompoms hovering over shallow water. The flower is intricate and the plant is unassuming. Quite lovely.'

 

View Plant

Cranberry

Pitcher Plant

(Sarracenia purpurea)

'Carnivorous -- the story last year that a population in Algonquin consumes salamanders was a bit disconcerting but cool!'

 

View Plant

Pitcher Plant

 

We hope you're inspired to learn more about the strange and wonderful plant life growing in our country's wetlands. Check out the links below, or visit the CanPlant Search Page to discover more species.

 


Recommended Further Reading:

 

• World Wetland Day 2020: Official Page
Find a World Wetlands Day event near you, learn more about wetlands, get free educational materials and infographic cards to share on your social media accounts.

 

• The Secret World of Bog
This photojournalist's foray into West Coast coastal temperate rainforest bogs was published in 2016 and won a gold award in the Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The photos in this beautiful piece show the area's flora on all scales, from peat moss fasicles to forests of stunted pines and cedars.

 

• Pitcher plants discovered snacking on baby salamanders in Ontario park
A recent CBC stories shows that our native carnivorous plants are more voracious than we might think.


• Treasured Wetlands of Nova Scotia 2019 Story Map

An interactive look at wetland habitats in Nova Scotia. If you're not on the East Coast right now, here's a way to visit these sites virtually!
 

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