On Trees around Eastern Ontario


Owen Clarkin, Swamp White Oak

By Owen Clarkin, Ottawa Field Naturalist Club. All photos courtesy of Owen.

One particularly interesting story from this summer is a population of apparently wild Swamp White Oaks discovered this summer (by Clayton Shearer) near Oak Valley (south of Winchester), including this magnificent roadside specimen:

A fully mature Swamp White Oak
A fully mature Swamp White Oak

Swamp White Oaks have been found along an at least 11.5 km stretch of the South Nation River so far centred approximately at the appropriately-named Oak Valley.

What is likely the largest living Rock Elm in the world is easily visible in Merrickville: this tree is approximately 92′ tall by 3.5′ avg diameter and appears to be a wild origin forest tree that predates the town itself.

Rock Elm in Merrickville
Rock Elm in Merrickville

An extensive population of Red Spruce and Acadian-type forest was discovered over the last few years, mainly existing on sandy soils, semi-continuously from Ottawa to the eastern edge of the province at Voyageur Provincial Park.  Much of this area was unfortunately hard hit by the May 21 derecho event (we’re happy we mostly documented this forest before May!), and some of the notable mature trees have been lost.  Some roadside trees are still standing and easily accessible, such as these:

Red Spruce, unfortunately lost May 21
Red Spruce, unfortunately lost in the big storm on May 21

For interesting forbs/shrubs, the Constance Bay sand hills (can park e.g. here: https://goo.gl/maps/zzxT7mz7HLay6GgPA ) offer an impressive diversity of locally rare/disjunct plants, such as Butterfly Milkweed, Hairy Puccoon, New Jersey Teas (both species), Sweetfern, Fragrant Sumac, American Hazelnut, etc.

Sweetfern in Constance Bay is a charismatic shrub
Sweetfern is a charismatic shrub, in Constance Bay

There’s also some interesting plants in eastern Ontario from an eastern perspective for the province such as Rhodora, Greater Purple Fringed Orchid, Canada Lily, and maybe (unconfirmed but strongly suspected) Canada Serviceberry.

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