Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Carnivorous Plants!

We also visited Dorcas Bay briefly one evening, another of our favourite spots up the Bruce Peninsula.  It's on the west shore, very different than the cliffs of the east.  Here the bedrock, covered with sand in the bay, dips into Lake Huron like a very slightly slanted table top, creating a series of unusual habitats.

Dorcas Bay dips so slowly into Lake Huron that you can walk out 100 yards and only have water half-way up to your knees.

There are three interesting habitats, that show up on this air photo on one of the Parks Canada sign.  There are the low sand dunes along the shore, the Jack Pine forests back of the shore, and the 'fen', the brown area to the east of 'You are here'.  This post is a little long with lots of pix, so just scan through quickly unless you're really interested.

This year the water has risen in the Great Lakes, so what was a narrow sandy stream flowing to the lake is now a deep flooded inlet, what was open wet sand is now shallow water.

We started taking a quick look in under the forest, where the Yellow Ladyslipper were in bloom, one of the more common orchids on the Bruce.  It was because of flowers like these that the property was saved from development for cottages in 1963, by the non-profit Ontario Naturalists in the 'Battle of the Bulldozer' which raised $30,000.00 to purchase the land from the bankrupt developer.  I first visited this spot the year after, and have been going back ever since.  For a few years I had a hand in its management, but it's now part of the Bruce Peninsula National Park

The beautiful little Fringed Polygala was blooming under the Jack Pines.

Behind the parking lot is the 'fen', a unique wetland habitat with shallow water and high alkalinity.  It's home to some really unusual plants which you can easily see from the boardwalk.

We spotted a few of the Blue Flag Iris.  The much rarer Dwarf lake Iris also blooms here, but earlier, in late May.  Botanists from across the continent visit to see it.

There is also some Cottongrass growing in the back corners of the fen.  Not a grass at all, but a sedge found in this unusual habitat.

But the interesting plants are the carnivorous ones.  This is the Linear-leaved Sundew, which captures insects among its tiny tentacles, and dissolves them for nutrients.

The best close-up I could manage shows you the tentacles and the drops the plant secretes to attract, hold, and then dissolve tiny insects.  Parts of the fen are almost carpeted with these plants.

The other carnivorous plant is the Pitcher Plant, perhaps the most common symbol of the fen wetland.

Insects crawl into the 'pitcher-like' leaves, where downward pointing hairs make it hard to crawl out.  Eventually they are dissolved as nutrients too.

The flower, in full bloom at this time of year, is both unusual and quite attractive, but it faces downward so it's tricky to photograph.

Out on the open shoreline we walked over the wet sand flats at the edge of the Jack Pine forest.  The only place Jack Pine are found this far south in Ontario is in sandy habitats on the Great Lakes shorelines.

Jack Pine is the pine species that needs fire to pop open the cones to release the seeds, but here on the hot sunny dunes, the temperature (which can rise to 50°C on the sand surface) is enough to accomplish that.

The native Tamarack with it's clusters of tiny needles and tiny cones is also common here.  Not many places you can see a Jack Pine/Tamarack forest in southern Ontario!

The Indian Paintbrush were glowing in the evening sun.  Usually red, but occasionally yellow.  With that we better quit; if you've lasted this long, thanks for your interest!


  1. Wonderful photos and post . It has been years since I have been up that way so pretty up there . Yes our lake Erie also has more water in it then it has had in years and we also have many wet lands in the area that the Ontario Naturalists have saved from being developed . I am glad they did cause it is soo pretty and full of wonderful nature . Love all the wild plants in this post all so amazing , Thanks for sharing , have a good day !

  2. Oh, my, I have enjoyed this and I have not even clicked to expand the view yet...will do that in a minute. I had never heard of the Linear-leaved Sundew...always learning new things through blogging.

    I don't think I have ever seen a Pitcher Plant but have heard of them...

    I really enjoyed this...

  3. Beautiful photos. Fens, any wetland for that matter, are truly wonderful places, full of interesting plants and animals.

  4. When you remind me of things like fens, I think about how many people are completely missing this part of our world.

  5. Pitcher plant, Newfoundland flower. Love it. Great photos..

  6. Hello!:) Such a delightful informative post, with the many different plants, both beautiful and interesting. Hubby and I visit the wetlands in our part of the world once a year, to see the great diversity of plant life. I enjoyed every image of your post, and the colours are truly beautiful.

  7. A long look, then a longer one all over again. The Iris, the white fluff of the cotton grass ( that would be wonderful on a card) , and so much more, this is a treasure trove of beauty. Lovely close-ups.

  8. Hello, gorgeous scenery and the wildflowers are just beautiful. The ladyslippers are my favorite. Wonderful photos. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and weekend ahead.

  9. I was fascinated the entire time, FG. They are beautiful plants, even if a little creepy, like that Sundew. Wow! I enjoyed the trip through the area; I'm so glad it was saved from development. :-)

  10. very pretty wild flowers, many of which i am unfamiliar with! i like the wild orchard!!!

    beautiful images!!!

  11. Love all your wildflower photos!

  12. They are some very interesting plants. The Linea-leaved Sundew which I've never heard of is quite amazing looking. It looks like a caterpillar itself!

  13. I didn't know all of the wildflowers. The paintbrush was the healthiest one I have ever seen. Your telling of the lakes being with high water makes we wonder if all the lakes keep similar levels. Superior dumps into the Mississippi when Minnesota chooses to do so. In drought time they hold it all back.