lakeside daisy, manitoulin island, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon

Lakeside Daisy

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Manitoulin Island Open Alvar Pavement



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Illustrated on this page are some northern Ontario wildflowers that occur on open alvar pavements on Manitoulin Island.  This habitat lies inland of shore alvar.

Open alvar pavement areas have less than 10% tree and shrub cover, the vegetation cover is patchy, and exposed bare bedrock exceeds 50%.  Soil is very thin - it is not uncommon for soil to be limited to 2 cm in thickness.  Wet and dry pavement generally have different plant communities. The focus in this description is shrubs and vascular plants on the dry pavements.

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 meters of the pavement surface.

Plants may grow in moss mounds, karst dissolution cracks, or in areas where shrubs, such as creeping juniper, have trapped soil.

Open alvar pavements generally grade rapidly into adjacent alvar habitats, such as alvar grasslands, alvar shrublands, and alvar woodlands.

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

Flowering plants described may occur on other alvar habitats.

Open alvar pavement, Misery Bay, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,

Open alvar pavement, Misery Bay (west) area. Note the bare, exposed bedrock, the lack of vegetation, and the rapid gradation into a woodland alvar.

Date: July 29, 2009

Open alvar pavement, Misery Bay (west) area. Note the bare, exposed bedrock, the lack of vegetation, and the rapid gradation into a woodland alvar.  Shrubby cinquefoil is rooted in a karst crack in the pavement.

Date: July 29, 2009

Open alvar pavement and cinquefoil, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,



Wild flower List:

Golden ragwort, Manitoulin Island, Copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Balsam Ragwort; native perennial; also known as Balsam Groundsel, northern meadow groundsel, northern ragwort.

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Flower: Yellow; daisy-like flower heads in flat-topped clusters; 2.5 cm wide; 8-12 ray flowers and central disk flowers; June-July.

Leaves: Basal leaves 1-15 cm long, oblong to lance-shaped, toothed; upper stem leaves 2-9 cm long and lobed; alternate; stem leaves are clasping and lobed.

Stem: Erect, branched, usually furrowed.

Height: 30-60 cm.

Habitat: In cracks in limestone pavement alvar adjacent to Lake Huron and in open woodlands.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay.
Date: June 29, 2002.

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Balsam ragwort basal leaves, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,

Balsam ragwort basal leaves compared to more deeply lobed stem leaves.

Location: Goat Island on alvar meadow.
Date: June 21, 2009.

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Golden ragwort flower, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

Balsam ragwort flower

Location: Manitoulin Island, Providence Bay
Date: August 2, 2004.

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Bluet, Copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Location: West Belanger Bay, Manitoulin Island
Date: June 9, 2007

Bluet; low-growing perennial; also known as Canada summer bluet, Canada bluets, Fringed houstonia.

Family: Madder (Rubiaceae)

Flower: Purple to white; tubular; +/-3 flowers on terminating stems; May - July

Leaves: Opposite; basal leaves have petioles up to 1 cm long; oblong to lanceolate and tapering at base; reddish below, green above; opposing leaves joined at base.

Stem: Multiple stems; simple or branching; 4-sided; glabrous and reddish.

Height: Up to 15 cm.

Habitat: Occurs on rocky or gravelly open alvar areas where it is exposed to full sun or partial shade.

Other: Different from H. longifolia in that the petal-like lobes  are more than half as long as the tubular part of the flower, they have basal leaves that are fringed with fine hairs. Houstonia longifolia’s petal-like lobes are about half as long as the tubular part of the flower and does not usually have basal leaves when the flowers are in full bloom.

Note: Some authors include this variety in Houstonia longifoliaThis plant was once classified in the Hedyotis genus, but is now generally found listed as Houstonia.

Location: Manitoulin Island, south shore
Date: August 2, 2004.

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Low calamint, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,

Location: Misery Bay, Manitoulin Island
Date: July 25, 2005

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Low calamint; low-growing perennial; also known as Wild savory, Arkansas Mint, Calamint, Limestone Calamint, Limestone Savory, Low Calamint, Niagara Thyme, Ozark Calamint, Calamintha glabella, Clinopodium arkansanum, Clinopodium glabrum, Hedeoma arkansana, Hedeoma glabra, Micromeria glabella, Satureja arkansana, Satureja glabra, Satureja glabella.

Family: Mint (Lamiaceae or Labiatae)

Flower: Ranging from white to mid-purple; June through late September.

Leaves: Oval leaves that vary from blue-green to deep green in colour for mat-like growths; linear, opposite leaves, with flowers on erect stems.

Stem: Ground-hugging stolons that form a mat-like growth; also sends up flowering leafy shoots.

Height: Up to 20 cm tall.

Habitat: Found on moist dolomite alvar open flats, fens, and wet prairies, and prefers moist calcareous soils.

Interest:  Has several characteristics of the mint family, including bilabiate flowers, four-sided stems, opposite leaves and exceptional aromatic oils. If you have ever crawled or walked over a mat of Low calamint, you will appreciate the exceptionally strong aromatic mint smell.

Other information: North American Native Plant Society

Early Saxifrage; perennial; native.

Family: Saxifrage (Saxifragaceae)

Flower: White; 5 regular parts; up to 0.6 cm wide; early May.

Leaves: Basal leaves only; up to 8 cm in length; each leaf is toothed or lobed; may be a few small leaves on the fuzzy stem.

Stems: Up to 25 cm tall and may be fuzzy.

Height: Up to 25 cm.

Habitat: dry woods, rocky areas, alvar.

Interest: One of the more common eastern Saxifrages. It occurs from the Arctic into Northern United States.  The flowers are protected from crawling predators by sticky hairs on the stem, which ensnare insects, like ants.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay
Date: May 18, 2008

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Early saxifrage, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon,

Field Chickweed; perennial; also known as Starry Grasswort, Meadow Chickweed, Field Chickweed, Starry Chickweed, Field Mouse-ear Chickweed.

Family: Pink (Caryophyllaceae)

Flower: White; 5 petals that are deeply notched; inflorescence consists of about 5 flowers on the tip of the flowering stem; center of flower is yellow-green in colour with distinctive white stamens; petals streaked with green at their bases; flower is about 1 cm wide; May - July.

Stem: Numerous flowering stems; minutely hairy.

Leaves: Linear and narrow with one central vein; opposite; 1-3 cm long; thin, with smooth outer margins; sessile to stem.

Height: up to 20 cm.

Habitat: Rocky or sandy places, especially in limy soil found on open alvar pavement, inland prairies and grasslands, and in subalpine and alpine habitats.

General Interest: Forms loose mats with numerous flowering stems. "Cerastium", from the Greek keras, meaning "horn", which refers to the capsule that is tapered and bent slightly like a cow's horn. Native and circumpolar.

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Field chickweed, Copyright 2006 Andy Fyon.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay
Date: May 20, 2006

Field of field chickweed, Copyright 2006 Andy Fyon.

Field Chickweed plants growing on an open alvar field. The background white coloured plants are Field Chickweed.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Burnt Island
Date: May 20, 2006

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Field Wormwood (Artemisia campestris L.); native short-lived perennial or biennial; also known as common sagewort, field sage-wort, Field Mugwort, Beach wormwood.

Family: Aster or Daisy (Asteraceae)

Flower: Flower head is yellow, up to 2 mm wide; inconspicuous; occur in spike- or panicle-like inflorescence; open branched clusters; the flowers are wind pollinated; July-September.

Leaves: Alternate, feathery; divided into linear segments; both sides of the leaf are of similar color; lower leaves are crowded.

Stem: erect with a deep taproot where the substrate allows.

Height: Up to 50 cm on alvars.

Habitat: Limestone alvar, limestone rocks and walls, dunes and dry banks, gravelly native prairie; is an early colonizer on sand dunes and lake shore communities

Interest: The name "campestris" refers to the Greek goddess Artemis who received great benefits from a plant of this family. Out of gratitude, she gave it her own name "campestris" meaning "of the fields or open plains". This is a circumboreal species. In ideal conditions, such as a sand dune, the taproot and associated roots were documented in one case to extend 9 m from the mature plant. (Reference)

Location: Murphy Point, Manitoulin Island.
Date: July 11, 2010

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Field wormwood, copyright 2010 Andy Fyon,

Field wormwood, copyright 2010 Andy Fyon,

Field wormwood growing on open alvar pavement. The deep taproot is one means of survival, as it provides access to moisture. The light-coloured and narrow leaves are another survival tactic, which reduces the influence of Solar incidence.

Location: Murphy Point, Manitoulin Island.
Date: July 11, 2010

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Hairy Rock-cress; Native short-lived perennial or bi-annual; also known as Hairy Rockcress.

Family: Mustard (Brassicaceae)

Flower: White; Early May to late June.

Leaves: Alternate; leaves flare out at the base into a lobe; hairy toward the base, leaf stems are hairy.

Stem: Erect, generally single.

Height: Generally less than 40 cm in this area.

Habitat: Limestone alvar, limestone rocks and walls, dunes and dry banks, gravelly native prairie.

Location: Barrie Island, Manitoulin Island.
Date: May 26, 2007

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Hairy rockcress, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Lance-leaved coreopsis, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,

Lance-leaved coreopsis; Native; perennial; also known as Tickseed.

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Flower: Bright yellow flower attached to a single erect stem; 8 ray petals with coarsely toothed ends; numerous yellow disk flowers; flower head is up to 4 cm across; mid-June to late-July.

Leaves: Leaves are undivided, thin, and elongate, or with two basal lobes.

Stem: Single flowering stem up to 50 cm tall.

Height: Up to 0.5 m.

Habitat: Sandy or rocky soil, disturbed areas and roadsides, open alvars.

Interest: This is a drought tolerant perennial that also tolerates long periods of moisture. Normally takes two years to become established.

Location: Misery Bay, Manitoulin Island
Date: July 29, 2009.

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Lance-leaved coreopsis flower head.

Location: Misery Bay, Manitoulin Island
Date: July 29, 2009.

Lance-leaved coreopsis flower, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon,

Lyre-leaved Rock Cress; Native; biennial or short-lived perennial herb; also known as Lyrate rock-cress, Sand cress.

Family:Mustard (Brassicaceae)

Flower: White; 4-parted; less than 1 cm wide; flowers occur in a terminal cluster or raceme; the seed pods are long (2-cm), flattened, and project upward; May - July.

Leaves: The lower leaves are lyre-shaped and have lobes at the base; the stem leaves generally have no lobes.

Stem: Erect stems with many weak branches originate from from a hairy base.

Height: Up to 30 cm.

Habitat: Rocky and sandy soil, on open alvars, rock ledges, dunes,  and cliffs.

Interest: The Greek word "Arabis" means "mustard" or "cress".  The Greek word "Arabia" may refer to the ability of the plant to grow in rocky or sandy soils.

Lyre-leaved rock cress, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay west
Date: May 26, 2007.

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Lyre-leaved rock cress flower, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Location: Manitoulin Island, Carter's Bay
Date: May 21, 2006

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Lyre-leaved rock cress, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon,

Typical form of Lyre-leaved rock cress - branching.

Location: Misery Bay, Manitoulin Island
Date: May 18, 2008

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Lakeside daisy; also known as Manitoulin Gold and Stemless Rubberweed, Angelita Daisy, Plains Hymenoxys, Stemless Hymenoxys; member of the Sunflower family.

Lakeside Daisy is classified as a Threatened Species in Ontario.

Flower: Yellow; flower heads are solitary, about 2 cm wide, with pale yellow rays that bend downward at maturity; May - early July.

Leaves: Leaves are all basal, silvery green with short hairs, about 5 cm long and up to 1 cm wide.

Stem: The plant has no stem. The structure supporting the flower head is a leafless organ called a scape.

Height: 8 - 15 cm.

Habitat: Occurs in alvar habitats in the Great Lakes region, including crevices in limestone, on cliffs and alvars (shallow soil over limestone) and other open, sunny, generally cool and windy sites.

Interest: The lakeside daisy is adapted to rocky, windswept areas because its thick, rubbery leaves store water, allowing the plants to withstand dry spells. Acaulis means "without a stem" in botanical Latin.

Lakeside daisy, Manitoulin Island, Copyright 2006 Andy Fyon.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay
Date: May 20, 2006.

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Lakeside daisy, Copyright 2006 Andy Fyon

Location: Manitoulin, Misery Bay
Date: May 20, 2006.

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Lakeside daisy habitat, Copyright 2006 Andy Fyon

Lakeside daisy plants growing on limestone pavement. Note that plants are concentrated along fractures in the limestone, where water and soil accumulate.  The fractures are marked by the linear train of plants.

Location: Manitoulin, Misery Bay
Date: May 20, 2006.

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Narrow-leaved vervain; perennial; Also known: Herb of grace, Holy herb, Enchanter's plant.

Family: Verbena (Verbenaceae)

Flower: White, lavender or purple that form on a stalk; bloom from bottom to top of stalk; 5 petals; tube-shaped; five-lobed; arranged in one to several narrow, densely clustered spikes; 4-6 millimeter-wide; May to August.

Leaves: Narrow, opposite, lance-shaped that taper to a stalkless base; deeply lobed; sparsely leaved; 3-10 cm in length and 3-15 mm in width; hairy on both surfaces; coarsely toothed; rounded at the tip.

Stem: Greenish; erect, sparsely branching.

Height: 0.3 - 0.5 m.

Habitat: dry calcareous meadows, open alvars

Other: Vervain has a long association with mysticism and magic. In Medieval times, people worn necklaces of vervain to protect them from headaches and snake bites.

Global map

Location: Misery Bay, Manitoulin Island
Date: August 5, 2010

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Narrow-leaved varvain, copyright 2010 Andy Fyon,

Narrow-leaved vervain flower, copyright 2010 Andy Fyon,

Narrow-leaved vervain flower detail.

Location: Misery Bay, Manitoulin Island
Date: August 5, 2010

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Rock Sandwort; native; annual or short-lived perennial; also known as Texas Sandwort, Stiff Sandwort, Michaux's stitchwort.

Family: Pink (Caryophyllaceae)

Flower: White; 0.5 cm across maximum; five-petals and 5 sepals that are shorter than the petals; petals rounded or slightly notched; June - early July.

Leaves: Opposite, needlelike; arranged in whorls about the stem; tufts of shorter leaves in axis; often matted mass or clump.

Stem: Mass of numerous, moos-like, fine, thread-like stems; up to 3 flower heads on a stem.

Height: Up 20 cm.

Habitat: Found on rocky soils or limestone pavement or alvar in this area; full sun; adapted to calcareous soil.

General Interest: This species grows well in a limestone rock garden, but it is difficult to transplant.  In addition, the plant is easily overgrown by woody species through succession, destroyed by trampling; and intolerant of soil compaction.

Reference: see Morton et al. (2000).

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay.
Date: June 29, 2002.

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Rock sandwort flower, copyright 2002, Andy Fyon.

Rock sandwort leaves, copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Rock sandwort leaves.  Note whorl of grass-like leaves around stem.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay.
Date: June 29, 2002.

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Rock sandwort plant, copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Rock sandwort plant.  Note moss-like appearance.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay.
Date: June 29, 2002.

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Sandcherry flower, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Sand Cherry; native perennial shrub; Also known as Beach plum, Dwarf American Cherry, Great Lakes sand cherry.

Family: Rosaceae (Rose)

Flower: White; 5 petals; clusters of 2-4 flowers occur in leaf axils; 25-30 stamens; June.

Leaves: Alternate; narrow (10 to 18 mm wide) oblanceolate; dark green; 4-7 cm long; entire to finely toothed; lustrous on top surface and pale on lower surface.

Stem: Twigs are red but become gray with age.

Height: Up to 0.5 m high and 1 m. spread; prostrate growth.

Fruit: Turn a deep blackish purple; larger than choke cherry fruit; favourite fruit for wildlife; the fruit are edible; June-July.

Habitat: The Great Lakes sandcherry is often found on well drained glacial sand plains or sand dunes bordering larges bodies of water, on alvars, along gravel bars or shorelines, on cliff faces, rocky slopes, and on calcareous.

Interest: Sandcherry has an important role of stabilizing the sand dune.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Providence Bay
Date: June 11, 2005

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Sandcherry fruit, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon,

Sandcherry fruit.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Providence Bay
Date: June 11, 2005

Prostrate sandcherry shrub, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon,

Sandcherry shrub illustrating a prostrate form, growing close to the surface of limestone pavement. Note that the shrub is rooted in a karst crack in the limestone.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay west
Date: May 26, 2007

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Shrubby Cinquefoil (Shrubby Potentilla); botanical name for a group of hardy perennials and shrubs; is the only shrubby species among the cinquefoils.

Flower: Yellow; saucer-shaped; June to September.

Leaves: Smooth-edged; compound with 3 - 7 leaflets, but generally 5, hence the name "cinquefoil"; 

Stem: Woody shrub; the bark is reddish-brown and shreds easily.

Height: up to 1 m.

Habitat: Hot and dry locations or moist partial shade areas, such as alvars, open fields, edges of rivers, and rocky areas.

Interest: "Potentilla" means potent. Historically, the entire plant can be gathered as medicine to reduce inflammation of gums and tonsils, the tannin was used in the tanning of leathers, and the plant was used to stop the flow of blood when applied directly to open cuts; also used as a fever-reducing agent. The leaves have been used to make tea. Potentilla is a popular "home gardener" shrub because it is easy to grow, showy, is low maintenance and is tolerates dry conditions.

Location: Manitoulin Island, south shore
Date: 2005

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wild chives, copyright 2010 Andy Fyon,

Wild Chives; Native perennial; also known as Purple onion, Prairie Onion, Wild Onion, Wild garlic, or Fall Glade Onion..

Family: Alliaceae

Flower: Rose-pink, lilac; darker centre line; tubular-bell-shaped; flowers form a dense terminal cluster; up to about 30 in a round cluster; flowers consist of 6 petals that spread slightly at the tip to form the bell; late May - June.

Leaves: Straw-like, round, hollow; about 2 mm in diameter.

Stems: Stem rises from tiny bulbs to produce a typical onion-like stem topped by lavender flowers.

Height: 20 - 50 cm.

Habitat: Moist alvar and calcareous meadows, open alvar; often with wet ground in the spring.

Interest: Circumpolar; smells like onion; the name Allium is the Latin for garlic.

Location: Mississagi Lighthouse, Manitoulin Island
Date: May 23, 2009

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© 2009-2010 Andy Fyon
Sudbury, Ontario

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Date last modified:

Andy Fyon

August 7, 2010

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