Exploring Bruce County Gems

By Nikki May
A conservation mindset can yield great dividends. Byron Monk follows his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps in the protection of rich woodlands on their farms. These, in return for their care, yield up a rich diversity of wildlife and stand out like beacons in the middle of Bruce County farm country where the cropped fields stretch for kilometres.
In May a group of Saugeen Field Naturalists visited a couple of woodlands on Byron’s farm. One of them is home for the White Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum) a rare occurrence in Bruce and Grey Counties. Red and white Trilliums, Yellow Trout Lilies and Canada Mayflower can also be found in the rich, moist forest soil. In the overstory, Sugar Maple shares sky room with Black Cherry and Basswood.
Stopping on the way back, we listened for an Orchard Oriole in another woodland on Byron’s farm. The oriole wasn’t calling at that time in the day, but Byron had heard it several times on his way to and from the fields.
Our final visit for the day was to the woodland closest to Byron’s farmhouse. The woodland is about 20 acres in extent and has rich, moist, clay soil. Trilliums, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Trout Lily, Blue Cohosh, Hepatica, Dutchman’s Breeches and Bloodroot grow here, as well as a scattered population of Barren Strawberry. The overstory includes Basswood, Sugar Maple, Black Walnut, Red Oak, and Black Cherry, and there is also a Hackberry that stands out among the other tree species as rarely found in Bruce County. In the middle of the woodland we found a 50 m2 patch of False Mermaid. This plant is known to grow widely in Carolinian Canada, south of a line from Grand Bend to Toronto, and has also been found in south Huron County and Wellington County. But this is the first time it has been recorded in Bruce County. Needless to say, the botanists among us were excited by this find.
Our discovery has been recorded in iNaturalist and specimens will be sent to the Herbarium at the University of Guelph Biodiversity Institute of Ontario and the Dr. Laurie L. Consaul Herbarium at Western University. False Mermaid will be included in the next edition of the Vascular Plants of Bruce and Grey Counties, published by the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. Members of Saugeen Nature are pleased to be able to make a contribution to this good work. Byron Monk is proud that his family’s conservation ethos is contributing to the maintenance of biodiversity in Bruce County.
False Mermaid, Monk Woods, Bruce County

Photo by Angus Inksetter

Photo by Angus Inksetter

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