Plant publications

The Nature of PEI | by Gary Schneider

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When learning about plants and plantings, it is always useful to have information that targets native species in your locale. I’m happy to announce that two new online publications will be assets to anyone interested in native plants, restoration and improvement to habitat.

These publications were produced with support from the PEI Priority Place Forested Landscape for Species at Risk, a joint program of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the provincial government.

Rare Native Plants in Habitat Restoration focuses on taking advantage of restoration efforts to improve biodiversity to our Island landscape. It provides information on growing a variety of rare species, including native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns. Plants such as round-leaf dogwood and yellow violet are only found in a few places in the province. Anyone with a bit of gardening experience is quite capable of collecting some seeds and propagating these plants. They can then be added to suitable sites in the area.

There is a discussion on being very careful when harvesting seed from rare plants—it doesn’t make sense to improve biodiversity in one area while at the same time degrading another.  There is also information provided on species rankings, following up on the brilliant work done by the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre.

See accdc.com.

You may not have seen some of these species before, since much of our woodland is lacking in diversity, but they are worth encouraging. Photos accompany each of the 17 species highlighted, along with a description, habitat, areas of usage, wildlife usage and methods of propagation.   

Rare Native Plants is available at macphailwoods.org. I feel like there should be a “Be Kind to Rare Plants” day in the province, just to encourage people to continue valuing and increasing the numbers of rare plants.

A second digital publication has also been released that will be valuable for watershed groups and landowners looking to improve habitat with native plants. Native Plants and Watersheds—A Natural Combination is a publication of the PEI Watershed Alliance.

The main focus of Native Plants and Watersheds is on assessing riparian zones. Using real-life examples, it looks at different conditions found along streams and suggests ways to improve the health and diversity in those woodlands. Some examples are streams bordered with alders, old-field white spruce, and recently abandoned fields that are regenerating with a mix of species. For each scenario, techniques are suggested for improving biodiversity and forest health. There are also suggestions as to what plants can be used as part of the restoration.

Another section that will be of use to anyone interested in native plants is the key to identifying deciduous trees and shrubs. The publication also looks at what types of plants can be used in specific conditions. For example, it has lists of plants that can be used in wet areas in full sunlight, wet areas with partial shade, dry areas in full sun, and dry areas with partial shade. It also has lists for windbreaks and hedgerows, shorelines, and around homes.

A list of species and associated wildlife that use it is also included.  You can learn, for example, how to attract cedar waxwings to your yard, or why the winter fruits—highbush cranberry, American mountain ash, winterberry holly, wild rose and hawthorn—are so important to wildlife.

Native Plants and Watersheds is available at peiwatershedalliance.org and macphailwoods.org. Each publication contains an extensive reading list targeted at potential users. Both publications were created by myself and Daniel McRae.

Gary SchneiderThe Nature of PEI
Gary Schneider

Gary began writing for The Buzz in the May 2018 issue. He co-chairs ECO-PEI and started the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project in 1991. The project demonstrates ecologically-sound forest management, with a focus on environmental education, conservation of rare plants, and the restoration of PEI’s native forest. He is an avid birder and lives in Tea Hill.