By Nikki May
Sulphur Springs Conservation Area is situated about a 10-minute drive south of Hanover in Grey County. On Mother’s Day, 19 members and guests of Saugeen Nature met there to see the spring wildflowers.
Several, quite different habitats can be found at Sulphur Springs CA. There is an upland hardwood bush where the best-known spring wildflowers can be found in abundance. As well, there is an area around the low-lying sulphur springs where the soil is wet and stays cool all year round. In this habitat many plants typical of bogs can be found. In between these two extremes lie swamps and marshy areas where a wide diversity of plant life flourishes.
Red Trillium photo by Jerry Asling
Our first destination on Sunday afternoon was the hardwood uplands. Here we found trilliums, white and
red, in abundance. There were Large-
flowered bellwort with its lovely yellow blooms, Trout Lily also with a yellow flower, but smaller and more symmetrical, and Cut-leaved toothwort holding a column of white flowers on its central stem. The tiny striped pink flowers of Carolina Beauty peeped out here and there, and we searched out the dark
red-brown flower of Wild Ginger under the leaves on the forest floor. This last bloom lays on the ground and smells like carrion to attract the ants that pollinate it. Another intriguing plant that grows in good numbers at this site is Dutchman’s Britches, its creamy flowers hanging in rows from the central stem and looking like little pairs of pants hung on a clothesline.
Once we completed the circular route through the forest, we returned to the main path and followed it back to the turn-off to the springs. After passing through a cedar bush with some very old trees, we came to an open area where the plants were low growing and many had leathery leaves. The Leatherleaf shrub was in bloom, holding its row of tiny bell-like flowers along the ends of its stems. Trailing Arbutus covered the ground in small patches, and scattered here and there along the trailing vines were clumps of tube like white flowers, some of them browned with frost after opening too early this cool spring. Wintergreen and Partridge-berry both still bore their pretty red berries. Other indicators of a bog environment were the stunted tamarack and cedar trees growing near the boardwalk.
The springs themselves are fascinating to see, with strange looking fungi or lichen growing in their depths. The volume of water produced at these springs is significant, all of it flowing underground down from the surrounding hills.
The Sulphur Springs CA is interesting to visit at any time. Our next outdoor event will be held at Kinghurst on June 22 in the evening.