Winterberry holly - Professor Beaker

Winterberry holly

Andy's Ontario Wildflower Site, Copyright 2008 Andy Fyon,

Andy's Northern Ontario Wildflowers


"If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor." - Albert Einstein.



Alpine Wildflowers

Yukon Wildflowers

Giant Hogweed

Sudbury Wildflowers


Plant List

Selection by Colour

Flowering period

Waste area wildflowers

Wildflower Meadows

Wildflowers of deciduous and coniferous forests

Wildflowers and plants in wet areas (lakes, bogs, beaches)


Flowering Shrubs

Wildflowers and slide shows from other geographic areas: Bearskin Lake First Nation, Marten Falls First Nation, North Spirit Lake First Nation, Eabametoong First Nation, Webequie First Nation

Other "Plants"

Mushrooms + Fungi

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Local Wildlife

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Manitoulin Wildflowers

Manitoulin Alvar Types and Wildflowers

Shore alvar flowering plants

Open alvar pavement flowering plants

Grassland alvar flowering plants

Alvar Woodland flowering plants

Sand dune and beach plants

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Wildflower Identification Sheets

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Other Information


Invasive Plants

Plant Hardiness Map

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An habitat is the place where a particular animal or plant species dwells.  In natural habitats, plants are adapted to a very specific set of conditions.

Habitat List

Wetland Habitat

Wetlands include shallow bays, beaver ponds, bogs, fens, and creeks or rivers.

Bog plants have to tolerate wet conditions, constantly wet soil, winter ice, problems associated with dispersing their seeds, and getting oxygen to their roots. The soil may be rich in organic material, but contains little mineral soil. Often, the soil consists of mats of very acidic, semi-decayed vegetation, such as peat. These conditions are poor in nutrients such as nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorous.

Because of the nutrient-poor conditions, many plants keep their leaves all year round, so as not to lose the nutrients they acquire during the growing season. Other plants catch insects to supplement their nutrient needs.

In some areas, such as bogs developed on the Canadian Shield, the water is acid. Certain plants are adapted to this acid water. Bogs developed on limestone rocks are alkaline, and a different set of plants are present. Water plants developed floating leaves to catch sunlight. Plants on the water edge also receive abundant sunlight.


Shoreline. Note the transition from hummocky growths of grasses close to shore in shallow water to cattails in the deeper water.

Location: Cemetery Lake, Burwash.
Date: May, 2000.

Marsh: water covered rooting zone; vegetation emerges during the growing season.

Location: Burwash.

Marsh, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,

River habitat.

This narrow creek also serves as a habitat for many plants that thrive in wet conditions.  Joe-Pye weed, boneset, and water parsnip grow in these wet conditions.

Location: Manitoulin Island.

Pickerelweed habitat - Burwash, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

Thick growth of pickerelweed at the edge of a small lake. The thick growth offers shelter and protection to turtles and small fish.

Location: Burwash.
Date: July 26, 2004.

Pickerelweed clump in lake, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon

Pickerelweed cluster at edge of protected bay in a small lake.

Location: Burwash.
Date August 5, 2002.

Lake side habitat with cat tail, stiff arrowhead, and pickerelweed.

Margin of a northern lake.  Note the sequence of water plants away from the forest edge:

Location: Burwash
Date: August 26, 2000.

Wet land adjacent to a lake. Water plants grow in the lake, reeds, sedges, and grasses adjacent to the lake, and coniferous forest back from the lake.

Location: Burwash
Date: September 24, 2000

Lake habitat

A shoreline fen located in the Burwash area.

Date: July 10, 2001

Shore fen

Creek habitat, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,

Narrow creek lined by fragrant white lily and reeds. Tall red pine grow on the uplands adjacent to the creek.

Location: Burwash
Date: July 10, 2001

Habitat List

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Swamp Habitat

Trees and or thickets are common in swamps.  Swamps usually have standing water in small pools. In the spring, or during wet seasons, standing water or slow-moving water may cover much of the ground.  The soil may be organic-rich or may consist of mineral soil. Most swamps are nutrient-rich.

Swamps may be hardwood-dominated, with ash, red maple, and birch. Alternatively, conifer swamps support cedar, white spruce, and tamarack.

Plants that thrive in swamps are adapted to shady, moist conditions punctuated by periods of flooding.

In the Sudbury and Killarney area, there are few alien plants in the swamps. The lack of alien plants may reflect the fact that the swamps are not commonly visited by human visitors and that the conditions are not well suited to most alien plants. settlers.

Conifer swamp, Burwash, Copyright 2007 Andy Fyon.

Conifer swamp with large white spruce. The forest floor is covered with conifer needles and sphagnum moss, a common associate of wet conifer areas.

Location: Burwash
Date: April 22, 2007.


Conifer swamp with a large white cedar in the foreground, American yew shrubs on the forest floor, and thin white spruce in the background. The swamp occurs in the flood plain of Paddy Creek.

Location: Paddy Creek flood plain
Date: April 13, 2003.

Conifer swamp, Paddy Creek, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Hardwood swamp, copyright 2007, Andy Fyon,

A hardwood swamp may develop in the flood plain beside a river.  The area may be underwater in the spring. Soil is moist and rich with organic material.  Early plants include Ostrich fern, hickory, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Orchids, and Yellow violets.

Location: Burwash
Date: May 29, 2005

A hardwood swamp developed in a depression adjacent to a local escarpment.  The escarpment is a cliff-like feature that develops because hard rock stands higher than softer rock that is eroded by glaciers and ancient rivers.  The soil is moist and rich with organic material.  Early plants include Ostrich fern, hickory, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Orchids, and Yellow violets.

Location: Indian Mountain Road, south of Bass Lake, Manitoulin Island
Date: June 7, 2010

Hardwood swamp, copyright 2010, Andy Fyon,

Habitat List

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Waste Area Habitat

Plants that thrive in waste areas, such as road sides, gravel pits, and vacant lots are adapted to sunny, hot, and dry conditions. Most flowers in this habitat flower in July till frost.

Soil may be sandy, rocky, and lacks organic material. Water quickly runs off or drains through the porous medium, so plants are adapted to hot and dry conditions.

Tall plants in waste areas have deep tap roots to assure access to water. Other plants are short with spreading roots. Their short size minimizes exposure to drying winds. Spreading roots rapidly "drink" rain water before it runs off or seeps into the porous soil.

Many of the wildflowers in these disturbed areas are alien and were introduced by early settlers. Many other native plants move in to the disturbed area because the ecosystem is changed.  There is more light, more water, or less acid from pine needles.

Waste area along an old road. Grasses and wildflowers are slowly growing in to cover the road.

Location: Burwash
Date: October 8, 2000.

Waste habitat defined by old road.

Waste area - logging road.

Waste are adjacent to a forest access road.  There are lost of violets, asters, and goldenrod growing in this area. Lots of tracks indicate this is also a favourite moose area because it is open and contains abundant new growth.

Location: Burwash
Date: October 1, 2000

Habitat List

Alien wildflowers of waste areas-1

Alien wildflowers of waste areas-2

Native wildflowers of waste areas

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Meadow, Grassland, or Open Field Habitat

Meadows and grasslands are characterized by a mix of grasses and wildflowers. The soil in this area consists of sandy loam - sand, clay, and organic material.

The meadows receive lots of sun and are open sites with good air circulation. They are hot and become dry when rain is infrequent.

Wildflowers adapt by having deep tap roots, both to compete with the grasses and to access water during periods of drought. The matting, tight-knit roots of the grasses, in combination with the deep roots of the wildflowers, combined to help keep weedy plants to a minimum.

There is a range of habitat in meadows. At the edge of the meadow, the meadow may merge with a waste area, a pine forest, a hardwood forest, or a wetland. Isolated white cedar trees may grow in the meadow. Hence, the range of wildflowers in the meadow may vary considerably.


At Burwash, white cedar often grows at the edge of an open fields or meadows.

Because there is no competition from other trees, the white cedar grows tall and with a uniform pyramid shape.

Language of Flowers: Cedar means "think of me", "I live for thee", or "strength". Source

Typical open meadow or field area. This is an area that used to be farmed for hay. It is slowly returning to a mixed deciduous - coniferous forest.  During spring and summer, the grass greens and the leaves grow, giving the meadow a rich green look.

Location: Burwash
Date: June 15, 2008

Burwash meadow, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon,

Mid-summer wildflower meadow: yellow hawkweed, orange hawkweed, and ox-eye daisy.  These are all non-native wildflowers that thrive in the open grasslands.

Mid-summer wildflower meadow.

Grassland habitat in fall, Burwash, copyright Andy Fyon 2008,

Burwash grassland in fall.  This field contains a mix of Canada goldenrod and Flat-topped white aster, some of which has gone to seed.  The grasses are about 2 m tall. This is a favourite area for deer to eat and bed down.

Location: Burwash
Date: August 31, 2008

Habitat List

Native meadow wildflowers

Alien meadow wildflowers

Wildflower meadows

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Limestone Beach Habitat or Alvar

The beach habitat is quite varied. It ranges between a transition zone into water to a transition zone into forest or meadow. The beach may be a limestone pavement where all soil has been removed by wave action or it may be a sand beach. The transition between the water and the vegetated land may take place quickly - over a few meters. The limestone pavement is also called an alvar.

Alvar is a limestone plain that is covered with scattered vegetation. The alvar experiences  extreme wet and dry conditions. Alvars have their own unique flowering plants that tolerate or require the extreme variations in moisture, the cracks in the limestone bedrock, and soil that is rich in calcium, derived from the limestone rock.

The alvar consists of flat slabs of limestone rock that are covered by very thin or no soil. Plants grow in cracks within limestone slabs or rocks.

Rain water quickly runs off the flat rock surface. However, ground water is close to the surface because the lake level occurs within a few centimetres of the pavement surface. Therefore, plants are seldom stressed by lack of water.

Plants have to grow their roots in cracks in the rock or in the very shallow soil. The soil is also limey and is alkaline. Only a few types of plants tolerate these conditions.

At the water's edge, winter ice scrapes along the shore, cleaning off exposed soil and plants. Therefore, there is commonly a zone devoid of plants within several meters of the shoreline.  Those plants that do grow on the limestone pavement have a foothold in cracks in the rock.

Trees are not common on the alvar. Shrubs are short or creep along the ground.

The absence of tall shrubs and trees means that wildflowers in this habitat are exposed to full sun and wind.

Limestone pavement and cobble beach adjacent to open water, Manitoulin Island, Carters Bay. Blue vervain and Boneset plants are common in this habitat.

Limestone pavement, Manitoulin Island, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon,

Rocky alvar beach and shore, Murphy Point, Manitoulin Island, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon,

On the alvar, the transition between forest and water can be rapid.  Plants that grow in the forest are different from the plants that grow at the forest edge which are in turn, different from the plants that grow in cracks in the limestone rock.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Murphy Point.
Date: July 25, 2006

Alvar pavement, Misery Bay, Manitoulin Island.

Date: May 18, 2008

Alvar pavement, Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon,

Bearberry is a common shrub that occurs along the edge of the alvar or where an old beach occurs. In these areas, there is sufficient soil to support this spreading shrub.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Murphy Point.
Date: July 25, 2006

Bearberry in beach transition, Manitoulin Island.

Fringed gentian in cracks in alvar, manitoulin island, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon,

Along the rocky shore, plants grow in cracks where seeds take hold in the small amount of accumulated soil. Outside the crack, the force of wind and ice and the absence of soil work together to keep the rock surface devoid of plants.  Here, Fringed Gentian grows in a crack in the limestone.

Location: Murphy Point, Manitoulin Island
Date: July 25 2006.

Sand Cherry is a common low-growing shrub that is common on the dunes and alvars.

Location: Manitoulin Island
Date: July 29, 2006

Sand cherry shrub, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon,

Creeping juniper, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon,

Creeping juniper is another common shrub that occurs on the alvar.

Location: Manitoulin Island
Date: July 25, 2006

Habitat List

Wildflowers of a limestone beach or alvar

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Pine Forest

Compared to hardwood forest, the pine forest does not have a thick layer of leaves on the floor, often is characterized by much less shade, has soil that is acid, derived of sandy material, pine needles, and sometimes has swampy or wet areas.

Low-lying areas are wet and contain abundant sphagnum moss. Uplands in a pine forest, formed because of sandy hill or rock outcrops, are covered by shallow sandy or mineral soil that lacks organic material.

Rain water quickly runs off, or quickly percolates into, the higher areas, but is captured in the low-lying areas. The soil in the higher areas is dry and has little capacity to store water.

Evening temperatures are generally cool, but day-time temperatures in the summer may be very hot. Winter temperatures may drop as low as -40C. Snow cover is 1-3m, depending on the area.

Tall plants in the pine forest are adapted to acid soil and the lack of nutrients. Some plants trap insects to supplement their nutrient requirements.

White pine cluster, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Cluster of white pine create a local ecosystem on a rocky point.

Location: Killarney Highway
Date: April 28, 2007

The forest floor within a conifer forest is covered with pine needles and has little undergrowth because of low light levels and the acidic soil.

Location: Killarney Highway
Date: April 28, 2007

Conifer forest floor, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Language of Flowers: The word pine means "time", endurance", "daring", and "pity". Source


Black spruce and tamarack bog.

Northern boreal forest. Black spruce (tall, dark green, club-shaped top) and tamarack (foreground, light green) surrounding on the edge of a bog. The bog, not visible, is located on left side of the photo.  Note the trees get smaller towards the bog.

Date: June, 2000
Location: Bearskin Lake, Ontario.

Forest floor in a red pine forest. The lack of vegetation reflects the low light conditions and the acid soil conditions.  The Ostrich fern is able to grow under these severe conditions.

Location: Burwash.
Date: October 8, 2000.

Red pine forest floor.

Pine forest floor.

This pine forest floor is covered by reindeer lichen.  In the early spring, Lady's Slipper orchids abound.

Location: Timmins
Date: June 24, 2001.

Habitat List

Wildflowers of the pine forest

Moss and lichen

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Deciduous Woodland Habitat

Many wildflowers in the woodland habitat flower early in the spring before the leaves fully open on the trees. It is the short period between the disappearance of snow at the end of April, until the leaves come out at the end of May, that conditions are ideal for woodland wildflowers. During this short period, the forest floor is flooded by sunlight. From June to September, there are few wildflowers because shade from the leaves precludes growth by most wildflowers. During this period, virtually all part of the woodland wildflowers disappear, leaving no trace on surface.

Wildflowers that do grown in the shade of the fully leafed hardwood forest derive their energy from the living trees and the dead plant material on the forest floor. Some of these plants that grow mid-summer have lost their chlorophyll and are white or clear in colour.

The soil is rich in organic material and leaf litter. Soil is generally moist because the soil retains moisture and the tree leaf cover keeps the sunlight from drying out the soil. Plants receive abundant sunlight in the spring and filtered light in the summer.

Deciduous forest in the spring. Because there are no leaves in the spring, sunlight reaches the forest floor and many ephemeral wildflowers are able to grow and flower before the leaves arrive.  In this case, the forest floor is covered by Trout Lily.

Location: Burwash
Date: May 1, 2001

deciduous forest, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Deciduous forest in fall, Fairbanks Provincial Park, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon,

Deciduous forest in fall. The yellow leaves indicate most trees are sugar maple.

Location: Fairbanks Provincial Park
Date: October 11, 2008

Habitat List

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Rocky Habitat (a Hard-rock Desert)

The Canadian Shield is characterized by the presence of rocky outcrops.  The rocky areas are not covered by soil. Plants take a foothold along cracks or in depressions where moisture content is higher. Mosses create organic matter may accumulate in the cracks and the depressions. These plants make the local habitat more suitable for seed-bearing plants.

Mosses on the forest floor prefer the moist, acid conditions of a conifer forest. The acid conditions and low nutrient conditions of the coniferous forest floor does not sustain many varieties of flowers. The mosses are able to digest the forest remains or the mineral soils to acquire their nutrients.

Mosses that grow on dead trees help the old wood decay and break down. As the moss helps the wood to break down, it also receives the nutrients needed to grow.

Mosses may also grow in open areas, such as the soils between rocks or along power lines. These areas may get very hot and dry in the summer. The moss has the ability to survive during these hot and dry periods without water. The moss shrivels up, turns black and appears dead. However, it takes only a few hours after a rainfall for the moss to turn green again.

Lichen grow on logs, rocks, and rough soils that may be very dry in the summer.

Reindeer lichen growing on a sloping rock surface.

Location: Burwash
Date: April 22, 2007.

Reindeer lichen habitat, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,

Rock outcrop of the Canadian Shield

On this typical rocky outcrop, reindeer moss grows along cracks in the rock. Blue berry shrubs grow in the depressions. Only lichen grows on the bare rock surface.

Location: Burwash
Date: May 20, 2001

Rock ledge habitat - moss growing in crack, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Moss often grows on rock ledges where cracks allow water to supply needed water during the hot summer. Without the crack and the channeled water, the rock face is an hostile habitat where few plants are able to grow.

Habitat List

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© 1999 - 2012 Andy Fyon

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Date last modified:

Andy Fyon

September 29, 2012

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