Wild Lily-of-the-Valley (Maianthemum canadense) or Canada Mayflower, is the most common wildflower recorded in the City of Kawartha Lakes in explorations that have been carried out over the last decade for the CKL Flora Project. The lovely stars that are its flowers turn to round translucent red berries when ripe that birds and animals eat.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
One of the earliest wildflowers to bloom in the deciduous forest, they love limestone and seem to prefer the open edges of the forest. The single large leaf protectively furls around the flower stem that bears a single bud that opens in the sunshine. By mid-May, the leaves are widespread, the flowers have already finished blooming and are setting seed.
Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba)
Named for the shape of its leaves which resemble a liver. One of the first flowers to bloom in the deciduous forest, the white, pink and lilac flowers have usually dropped their petals by the time the new leaves have opened.
Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata)
While exploring the deciduous forest in May, do not overlook this uncommon woodland violet. It is a delicate lilac in colour, but its long spur jumps out and wants to be noticed.
Canada Violet (Viola canadensis)
This white violet has a yellow centre formed by yellow at the base of its petals. Turn the flower over to see that the back of the petals have a purplish tinge.
Heart-leaved Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
A cousin to Early Saxifrage, both are members of the Saxifrage family. “Cordifolia” means ‘having heart-shaped leaves.’ “Tiarella” is diminutive for tiara, used here as an early meaning for ‘turban’, referring to the shape of the fruit.
Starflower (Lysimachia borealis)
Formerly known as Trientalis borealis, this wildflower with the perfect common name is found in acidic pine forests or plantations in May. A good place to look for it is the Somerville Tract where Red Pines were planted during the Depression, to hold the sandy soils and reverse the dust-bowl effect that was happening in the early 1900s after settlers cleared the forests, not realizing how unstable and poor the land was in the Burnt River Valley.
Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)
Everyone’s favourite alvar plant! The three flowers dangling on the stem look like they are from outer space. By mid-June, they have gone to seed and turned to pink plumes that wave in the breeze and look like pink smoke.
Early saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis)
One of the first wildflowers to bloom on the alvar, with basal leaves in a rosette, and belonging to the Saxifrage Family. The Latin Saxifraga literally means “rock or stone-breaker”. However, much as you might think this refers to rocks on the landscape, it refers instead to its supposed medicinal use for kidney or bladder stones.
Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
This plant produces no chlorophyl so has a white, waxy appearance, hence other common names of ‘Ghost Pipe’ and ‘Ghost Flower’. Leaves are scaly and one flower nods from each stem, resembling a pipe. It lives off a fungus that gets its nutrients from trees. The author has found it under, and shaded by Eastern White Cedar.
Bergamot and Black-eyed Susans (Monarda fistulosa) and (Rudbeckia hirta)
Where you find one of these cheerful wildflowers in CKL, you will likely find the other companion. Not surprising, Bergamot has a fragrance, since it is from the Mint Family. Black-eyed Susans are also known as Hairy Coneflower, referring to the fuzziness of their leaves and stems. They both grow well in poor soil, which would describe much of the northern third of the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
Its wooly hairs make the foliage of this plant look silvery. Along with its pearly white phyllaries that surround the yellow centres, they are easy to spot in a meadow, forest opening or along a roadside. ‘Everlasting’ in its name refers to the long-lasting phyllaries that make it an excellent dried flower.
Spotted Joe Pye-Weed (Eutrochium maculatum)
Prefers wet feet, so when you see a mass of these tall plants from the Aster Family you will know that you are looking at a marsh, shoreline or wet ditch. Such is the case for the location where this photo was taken on the north side of County Rd. 48 in Coboconk, just west of the traffic light. The leaves grow in whorls of 3 to 6 around a stem with purple spots.
Upland White Goldenrod (Solidago ptarmicoides)
This plant with 3 cm. white flowers is common to open alvars in August. The flower resembles an aster, so, not surprisingly, it used to be considered a member of the Asters . That is where you will find this wildflower in older field guides like Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers and Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, that have not been updated, but listed as Upland White ‘Aster’ (Aster ptarmicoides). Research however, has discovered that the plant is more closely related to Goldenrods (Solidago). It is uncommon in Ontario, but grows well on the poor thin soil of the Carden alvar.
New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
The large, dark purple flowers with golden centres are a bright cheery warning of the approach of fall, and Monarchs feed on them in preparation for their migration to Mexico. The hairy leaves clasp the stout stem of this perennial. Well-worth adding to your native garden.
Early Goldenrod (Solidago juncea)
This Goldenrod is well-named as it is the very first goldenrod to bloom. It is a biennial; the first year, only the leaves, in a basal formation, appear. The next year, a stem with flowers will grow in mid-August.