Pond plants of Point Pelee National Park
Pond plants of Point Pelee National Park are amazing.Recently I observed these pond plants, up close and personal as I was travelling throughout South Western Ontario. In addition , I had the pleasure of seeing a wide variety of garden, both traditional garden, an natural ones along and under waterways and many lovely pond plant. While to home gardeners, their own private space is treasured as a source of joy, peace and sometimes inspiration, to the adventurous the world of nature contains this and more.
Several weeks ago I saw native cone-flowers and other Carolinian woodland plants including poison ivy, wild grape vines and Queen Anne’s lace on Pelee Island. While marsh areas or wetlands both are part of Canada’s Carolinian Eco system, on the island the marshlands have been dramatically reduced to a small section near the north east shoreline.
Pond plants of Point Pelee National park, on the other hand,have lots of room to grow as, according to their literature, the park is approximately 80% marsh. This southern most point of mainland Canada also has a spit that juts in to Lake Erie similar to that of the island but is shorter in length. Composed of glacial sand, silt and gravel, the point here is approximately 4.5 Km wide at the north and approximately 7 km in length.
The point was named Point Pelee or Bare Point by the French explorers who discovered it, as the east side was rock and had no trees. After researching the history of the area, I realized my collected data would make up a book and that there are already many on it. However, from this information and a sign in the park itself, I learned that the park is designated as a protected area Category 2 by the international body IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).
After further reading about the IUCN’s mandate of conserving biodiversity, and information on the park’s wetlands, I really began to think about the significance of the diversity there. Point Pelee National Park is not only a significant Carolinian forest tract, but the ponds and pond plants there are home to a valuable aquatic ecosystem.
Unfortunately as civilization progresses, all too often the wetlands of Ontario are being filled in . A number of animals and birds can adapt by moving their habitat and following other food sources, but the toads, frogs, fish and minnows just to name a few, cannot live without the water! Even the pond bottoms are important as the muck there provides food and shelter for many tiny creatures and nutrition for the many pond plants.
Plants wherever they may be, provide interest for the observer, but they also provide food for the insects that feed on them. While garden pests at home are annoying and I wish they would just vanish, I never wanted them to become extinct…victims of a disappearing habitat. Little did I know how my recent kayak trip in this national park would connect me with this reality.
A friend and I drove past countless cottages that lined the shore of the point as we headed in to Pelee National Park with kayaks and gear, ready for a day of adventure. Under a glorious blue sky we watched birds soar and nest at a three storey bird observation tower while we prepared to launch. With hats, suntan lotion and life vest on, we seated ourselves comfortably and headed in to a narrow channel as we headed out to see pond plants of Pelee National Park.
Pond plants of Point Pelee National Park
Following the channel, which ran alongside a raised boardwalk at first, it wasn’t long before we spotted nature’s water gardens…pond plants galore! At the start there were a few white water lilies but as the water passage widened their number grew until white blooms were as far as the eye could see. In fact more flowering plants were seen than I had dared imagine
Pond plants of Point Pelee National Park are amazing!Between the big lily pads of the white flowers whose many petals stuck out like little spikes, there were smaller bright yellow ones with curled up petals. Of course I got my handy, tiny camera out of my life vest pocket and began to snap away!Pond plants at Point Pelee National park are everywhere! Not to be outdone were the smaller but lovely blue/purple blooms of what I later identified as Pickerelweed. Before long the channel tightened and as we rounded the bend, large pink flowers appeared that looked like the mallow in my garden back home.
These tall blooms grew high among the tall cattails as part of a lovely marshland bouquet. The sounds of these plants swishing in the warm wind blowing and the call of overhead birds combined in nature’s symphony! While this day had been amazing so far, little did I know there were more surprises in store, as I floated along with the pond plants of Point Pelee National Park.
Before leaving this view behind and turning back past the windsock that flew high overhead by the main channel back, I decided to risk the small lake ahead. The wind had picked up as had the waves ,but with a little extra energy on the paddles it wasn’t long until I reached Nirvana! There in front of me were pale yellow flowers that rose over a foot out of the water and towered over the biggest floating leaves I had ever seen!
In fact, the leaves were so huge I needed a paddle blade in the picture for scale. Then there were the blossoms themselves, that blew in the breeze so I had to hold one tightly to admire and shoot up close. There were buds waiting to bloom, fully open flowers and an occasional seed head waiting to dry and drop its seeds to the bottom. What these pond plants were was a mystery to me, I hoped to solve later.
As the clouds rolled in and the waves picked up, my friend and I headed back to the safety of the shallow waters and so our aquatic garden tour had come to a close. Back at the hotel that night, I did some online research and found all the information I had hoped for and more! The large yellow lily was in fact Nelumbo Lutea and is very rare in Canada!
Not only are the plants rare themselves, but they only flower in July and August with the flowers open from mid-morning to early afternoon. Wow I certainly timed it right! These gems, along with the more common white lily’s ( family Nymphaea ),and the tinier bright yellow Bullhead lily (Nuphar family) are just a few of the spectacular pond plants of Pelee National Park !
Certainly the need to protect the Carolinian ecosystem as a whole is important, and leaving the marshlands as unique sites of biodiversity is a must! Tempting as it was to take a dry seed head and try and grow in in water at home, I resisted.
Instead I donated extra funds to the park and hope to keep in touch with programmes and support they made need … and I might just be visiting an aquatic garden centre this coming spring, to stock up on my own pond plants!