Andy's Northern Ontario Wildflower Page

Bearskin Lake and Sachigo Lake Area

"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence." --Einstein, Albert



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Illustrated on this page are just a few of the many northern Ontario plants that grow around the communities of Bearskin Lake and Sachigo Lake.

The plants illustrated were photographed on June 6, 7, and 8, 2000. Given the northern location of this area, these plants are just beginning to leaf out or to flower. 

The northern location of these communities delays the onset of spring flowers.  Therefore, spring flowers in the area of Bearskin Lake and Sachigo Lake are just starting to bloom, whereas in more southerly areas, the spring flowers have completed their flowering.


About The Bearskin Lake Community

The Bearskin Lake First Nation community is located about:

  • 450 km north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario

  • 100 kilometers west of Big Trout Lake, Ontario
  • 1350 km northwest of Toronto, Ontario
  • 1080 km northwest of Sudbury, Ontario
  • 640 km north northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

The community is located on the shore of Michikan Lake or Fish Trap Lake.  The community began in 1930 when the first three houses were built.

For more about the history of Bearskin Lake, please visit the Bearskin Lake web page.

Approximate location map of Bearskin Lake and Sachigo Lake

Bearskin Lake, Ontario, Canada


About The Sachigo Lake Community

The Sachigo Lake First Nation community is located:

  • 450 km north of Sioux Lookout, Ontario

  • 150 kilometers west of Big Trout Lake, Ontario
  • 1400 km northwest of Toronto, Ontario
  • 1120 km northwest of Sudbury, Ontario
  • 560 km north northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The community is located on the shore of Sachigo Lake.

For more information about Sachigo Lake, please visit Sachigo Lake web page.


Local Habitat:

Bearskin Lake and Sachigo Lake are located on the northern fringes of the boreal forest, about 115 km south of the tree line.

The soil is cold and moist.  In cedar swamps or other areas of deep shade, the ground remains frozen late into mid-summer.  Black spruce and tamarack are common around the edges of bogs.  Poplar is the dominant deciduous tree on the sandy uplands.

The bedrock in this area consists of ancient, Precambrian granites and volcanic rocks that are about 2.7 billion years old.  To the north, around Hudson's Bay, much younger lime-rich rocks occur. About 10,000 years ago, glaciers transported limestone fragments and lime-rich mineral soil from the rocks around Hudson's Bay and deposited that material in this general area.  Glacial lakes deposited clay-rich soil.  Hence, the plants grow in lime-rich and clay-rich, cold, moist soil.

 Click here for more habitat information:


Plant List:



Allies of Ferns - Horsetails:



Northern Dwarf Raspberry

Flower: Pink, solitary or rarely 2 at top of stalks; petals 10-20 cm long; June-August.

Leaves: Alternate; stalks finely hairy; compound with 3 leaflets; 1-5 cm long; 0.5-3.5 cm wide; upper surface hairless, underside minutely hairy margins coarsely toothed; shiny and leathery leaves are distinctive.

Height: 5-10 cm.

Fruit: Red; rounded raspberry; 1 cm diameter; ripe July-September.

Other: Flowering branches are erect, have 2-3 leaves and solitary terminal flower.

Northern dwarf raspberry

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Northern bluebells

Northern bluebells: Perennial; also known as Northern Lungwort, Tall bluebells, Tall mertensia, Panicled bluebells, Lungwort.

Family: Forget-me-not (Boraginaceae).

Flower: Blue, pinkish in bud; bell-shaped; 5 lobes; 1-1,5 cm long; drooping; in loosely branched open clusters; June-July.

Leaves: Alternate, simple; basal leaves on long stalks; 5-20 cm long pointed tip and tapered base; toothless; prominently veined.

Stem: Erect, unbranched or loosely branched; usually hairy and dark green.

Height: 20-80 cm.

Habitat: Prefers damp woods, moist meadows, damp thickets, wet cliffs, riverbanks, dry slopes, burn areas and logged areas.

Interest: It is sometimes called lungwort because it resembles an European lungwort.  Bumble bees are the main pollinator.

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Northern Bluebells flower.

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Northern bluebells flower, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

Sweet coltsfoot leaves.

Northern Sweet Coltsfoot

Flower: Creamy white; in terminal clusters; 8-13 mm wide; stalk 15-20 cm tall; May. See following photo.

Leaves: Basal, on long slender stalks; generally cut into 5-7 lobes or segments; 5-40 cm wide on long stalk; upper surface green, hairless; underside white-woolly; margins coarsely toothed.

Height: 10-30 cm tall.

Habitat: Found in swamps and wet areas, moist deciduous forest and wet meadows.

Other: Flowering stems appear before leaves emerge. One of the earliest plants to flower.

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Northern sweet coltsfoot flower stalk.


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Northern sweet coltsfoot flower.


Red Currant; also known as Northern Red Currant.

Flower: Greenish purple; up to 6 mm wide; small nodding clusters on long stalks from leaf axils; early summer.

Leaves: Alternate; 4-10 cm long; coarsely toothed; palmate; 3-5 lobes.

Fruit: Smooth, bright red berries; 6-9 mm wide; mid-late summer. See following photo.

Other: Deciduous low shrub; stems are not covered with spines or bristles. Similar to northern black currant which has black fruit.

Location: Burwash
Date: May 25, 2002.

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Swamp red current, Burwash Ontario, copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Red currant fruit, Bearskin Lake, Copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Red currant fruit.

Ojibway call currants and gooseberries zhaubominuk, meaning the seed that goes through. The seeds pass through human, animal and bird digestive tract.

Location: Bearskin Lake

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Flower: White; nodding; 5 petals; petals fused into urn; clusters at branch tips; late spring to early summer.

Leaves: Alternate; 1.5-5 cm long; leathery, oval; green top surface, underside has white-brown scales.

Height: 1 m tall.

Other: Leaves contain andromedotoxin, a poison.

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Speckled Alder

Flowers:Tiny, in dense spike-like clusters called catkins; male catkin is long, hanging, scaly; female catkin is small, oval, erect, develop in late summer.

Leaves: Alternate, oval, 6-10 cm long, 3-6 cm wide, doubly toothed.

Fruit: Rounded, 1 cm long, woody cones on very short stalk.

Other: Twigs covered with white specks. Have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in nodules on roots.

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Speckled alder


Willow (See following photo)

Flowers: Catkins in May - June.

Leaves: Alternate; on yellowish stalks; simple, lance-shaped with pointed tip and base; 2-7 cm long, 0.5-1.5 cm wide; upper surface green, smooth and satiny; underside white-coloured.

Branches: yellowish-green to olive brown; older branches dark-brown to almost black.

Height: 2-4 m tall.

Other: There are several varieties of willow. Note yellowish colour of branchlet.

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Note distinctive red colour of branchlet.

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Allies of Ferns - Horsetails

Woodland Horsetail; also known as Horse-pipes, Joint-grass, Mare's-tail; green, bottlebrush-like perennial.

Flowering structure: Tip is spore-bearing cone; 1.5-3 cm long; never has flowers, but produces spores.

Stem: Solitary; hollow; fertile stems brownish and unbranched at first; eventually develop green branches (just starting in the photo); appear before sterile stems.  The photo is of the brown, fertile stem.  The sterile stems (not shown in photograph) are green with whorls of feathery branches.

Height: up to 50 cm.

Rhizomes: The plant reproduces by spores and by underground rhizomes. The rhizomes send up two different types of shoots at different times of the year. In the spring, the shoots are brown-coloured, unbranched, hollow, and jointed. At the tip of the spring shoot is the brown-coloured spore-producing cone. After the spore-shoots die, the second green shoot emerges. These have whorls of green-coloured branches (not illustrated).

Other: The green branches are further branched.  This distinguishes the woodland horsetail from the meadow horsetail. (See following photo).

Interest: Horsetail is rich in silica. Campers use the plant to shin or scrub dirty pots. It is a plant that has changed little in form over the 200 million years that it has grown on Earth. The prehistoric varieties were larger.  It is a plant that has changed little in form over the 200 million years that it has grown on Earth. The prehistoric varieties were larger. Also, Horsetails contain an enzyme that destroys vitamin B1 (thiamine). Horsetails have caused deaths in livestock. Horsetails can also affect humans.

Location: Paddy Creek, Sudbury
Date: May 3, 2009

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Woodland horsetail.

Spring shoot.

Woodland horsetail , copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,

Detail of branches on woodland horsetail.  The green branches are further branched.  The green branches are very short because they have just started to grow.

Also know as Bottle Brush or shave grass.

Horsetail is rich in silica. In Medieval times, horsetail was used to polish metal and wood.

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© 1999-2009 Andy Fyon

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Date last modified:

Andy Fyon

May 3, 2009

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