Sheep Laurel

Andy's Northern Ontario Wildflowers

Flowering Plants that Grow on
Bogs and Fens

 

 

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Habitat:

Illustrated on this page are some northern Ontario alien wildflowers that grow on bogs and fens.

These areas are wet year round, when the ground is not frozen.  The plants grow on a base of moss or peat.. This material is nutrient-poor and acid.  Low-lying areas may contain standing water.

Plants in this habitat are adapted to, and require, these moist conditions. Some plants, such as sundew or pitcher plant, have developed unusual methods to supplement their nutrient needs. These plants trap insects to supplement their nutrient requirements.  Most carnivorous plants grow in some water-saturated places, like a fen or bog, where there is a lack of essential nutrients like Nitrogen. Notwithstanding the low Nitrogen content of the growing medium, the tissues of carnivorous plants ranges from 20 to 75%, depending on their species. So, to survive, plants in these conditions had to evolve such that they could acquire Nitrogen and survive in low-nutrients environments. One common means is to trap and break down insects to obtain Nitrogen.  Insect bodies contain about 10.5% nitrogen.  In addition to Nitrogen, some carnivorous plants also absorb Magnesium, Potassium, or Phosphorus from their prey. The adaptation of their leaves specially modified as traps enable them to obtain some nutrients by trapping and digesting various invertebrates, and occasionally they may even digest larger animals such as frogs and mammals.

VIDEOS

Watch a YouTube video illustrating carnivorous plants, click here

Click here for the YouTube video: Poisonous Pitcher plant - The Private Life of Plants - David Attenborough - BBC wildlife

Watch a video of ants getting trapped by a pitcher plant.

Shrub bog: Bogs receive very little nutrients. This habitat is characterized by bog rosemary, bog laurel, and Leatherleaf on a base of peat moss.

Location: Burwash
Date: August 14, 2002.

Shrub fen, Burwash, Copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Shore fen: The shore fen occurs adjacent to a meandering creek. The fen consists of a floating mat of peat moss held together by the roots of sedges and shrubs.

Location: Burwash
Date: August 14, 2002.

Shore fen, Burwash, Copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Click here for more habitat information:

Plants List.

 


 

 

Plants that grow on bogs and fens.

Leatherleaf shrub, Trout Lake Road, Copyright 2006 Andy Fyon.

Leatherleaf; low evergreen shrub.

 
Flower: White, urn-shaped; 5 lobes; hang from axils; occur along spreading branches; May to early June.

Fruit: Rounded capsule, brownish. < 6 mm diameter.

Leaves: Leaves: Alternate; simple, evergreen; oval to oblong, short-pointed or rounded tip; 1 - 5 cm long, up to 1.5 cm wide; leathery; No brown hairs on underside; leathery; green to brownish on top.

Habitat: Wet area, such as along edges of lakes, ditches, fens, and peat bogs.

Height: up to 1 m.

Interest: This is one of the earliest shrubs to flower in spring. It is also one of the early shrubs to colonize a bog.

Location: Trout Lake Road
Date: May 6, 2006

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Marsh Blue Violet; perennial.

Family: Violet (Violaceae)

Flower: Purple with a dark throat or ring around the white base or throat; have hairs on the sides of the petals; not fragrant; late May to July.

Leaves: Leaves are alternate, basal, pale green, heart-shaped and up to 6 cm wide in ideal conditions.

Stem: Leaves basal and flowers on separate stems. Flower stem is taller than the plant leaves.

Height: Up to 15 cm.

Habitat: Wet places, open woods, wet meadows, springs, bogs, swamps.

Interest: The flowers are hermaphrodite, meaning they have both male and female organs, are pollinated by Insects or may be self-pollinated without flowers ever opening.

Location: Trout Lake Road
Date: June 2, 2007

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Marsh blue violet, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Bog rosemary

Low, erect or trailing evergreen shrub.

Flower: Pink; 5-6 mm wide; shaped like an urn; nodding and drooping clusters at stem tips; May - early June.

Leaves: Alternate; simple, evergreen, leathery, stiff, linear, 2-5 cm long with edges rolled under; light coloured and hairy on the underside; young leaves are bluish-green in colour..

Height: Up to 60 cm.

Fruit: Rounded, less than 6 mm in diameter; depression at tip; mid- to late-summer.

Habitat: Bogs, fens, and spruce - tamarack swamps.

Interest: Bog rosemary is a circumboreal species. All parts of Bog rosemary contain a poison that can cause death in humans.

Location: Burwash bog
Date: July 31, 2001

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Bog rosemary

Bog rosemary flower, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon.

Bog rosemary flower.

Location: Trout Lake bog by road crossing over the railroad track.
Date: May 27, 2006

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Labrador Tea

Erect, evergreen shrub. Member of the Heath Family.

Flower: White, clusters 1 cm wide; 5 petals; each petal less than 5 mm long; unscented; May-June.

Leaves: Alternate, narrow, blunt-tipped, leathery; top surface wrinkled and green; bottom surface covered with brown woolly hairs; margins rolled under; when bruised the leaves emit an agreeable odor.

Stem: Branches covered by brown hairs; older stems are smooth, hairless, reddish in colour.

Height: Low spreading; 1 m.

Habitat: Acidic margins of bogs and black spruce forests.

Interest: Related to rhododendrons and azaleas. The leaves are sometimes used to make a tea. Like several plants that live in acid bogs, Labrador Tea coexists with soil fungi (mycorrhizal association) that spread through soil to pull in nutrients and change nutrients to form used by plant.  The fungi may penetrate plant root. In return, the fungi receive sugars and other products from the plant.

Location: Trout Lake road bog
Date: June 22, 2002

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Labrador tea plant, Sudbury, Copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Labrador tea flower bud

Labrador tea flower bud.

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Labrador tea flower, Sudbury, copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Labrador tea flowers.

Location: Trout Lake bog
Date: June 22, 2002.

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Bog laurel, Copyright 2006 Andy Fyon.

Bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia)

Flower: Pink, saucer-shaped; 5 lodes, 10-15 mm across; on stalks in terminal clusters; May - June.

Leaves: Opposite, simple, oval or lance-shaped, blunt, 1-4 cm long, 5-12 mm wide, leathery, dark green shiny upper surface, underside whitish; toothless; slightly rolled under.

Stem: Few branches.

Height: < 1 m.

Other: Evergreen shrub. Bog laurel is considered potentially toxic through its entire range in Canada.

Location: Trout Lake road bog
Date: May 27, 2006

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Bog laurel leaves after flowering. The green, waxy appearance is distinctive when compared to Labrador Tea or Leatherleaf, two common associated plants.

Location: Sudbury
Date: July 25, 2001

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Bog laurel plant.

Sheep laurel, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon

Sheep Laurel, also known as lamb-kill; evergreen shrub; member of Heath family with evergreen foliage.

Flower: Deep pink to crimson, saucer-shaped; 5 lodes; 0.5 - 1 cm wide; on stalks from leaf axils of last year's growth; June-July.

Leaves: Opposite or in whorls of 3; simple, oval to elliptical, pointed tip, 1.5-5 cm long, 5-20 mm wide; firm, green upper surface, lighter underside; no hair on underside of leaf; toothless; slightly rolled under.

Stem: Branchlets brownish, round.

Height: 60-100 cm tall.

Habitat: Forest edge in more open and moist meadow.

Interest: Considered poisonous to sheep, cattle, and goats; hence the name sheep-laurel or lamb-kill - do not eat.  The nectar contains the toxin that results in toxic honey.

Location: Burwash
Date: June 30, 2003

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Sheep laurel plant, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Sheep laurel covered with profusion of flowers.

Location: Burwash
Date: July 4, 2009.

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Sheep laurel flower, copyright 2009 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Sheep laurel flower stalk.

Location: Trout Lake road bog
Date: July 4, 2008

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Tussock Cottongrass; also known as Sheathed Cottonsedge, Cottonsedge, Cottongrass, Hare's Tail, Hare's-tail Grass, Hare's-tail Cottongrass, Hare’s-tail Rush, Single-headed Cottongrass; native perennial sedge.

Flower: Tiny flowers are nestled within tufts of white silky hairs at top of stalk; clusters about 2 cm wide; June-September. See following photo.

Leaves: About 4 mm wide; flat; grass-like; dies back during winter.

Stem: Triangular towards top, round below.

Height: 45-120 cm.

Habitat: Tundra bogs, muskegs, and pockets of boreal forest.

Other: Tussock communities are stable for many decades. The cottony heads were collected in parts of Scotland and used for wound dressings during the First World War.

Location: Trout Lake Road bog, Estaire
Date: June 9, 2002

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Cotton grass bog.

Cotton grass flower.

Tussock cotton grass flower close up.

Location: Trout Lake Road
Date: June 9, 2002.

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Cotton grass cluster, Trout Lake Road, Sudbury, Copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Tussock cotton grass cluster in a bog.

Location: Trout Lake Road
Date: June 9, 2002.

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Hudson Bay Clubrush; perennial sedge

Flower: Single terminal cotton-like spikelet; tufts about 5-7 mm long tipped with white, silky hairs.

Leaves: Stiff, 5-12 mm long; most leaves are bladeless sheaths near base of stem.

Stem: Flowering stems that are triangular; stiff.

Height: Less than 40 cm tall.

Habitat: In fens and wet ditches.

Location: Highway 627, 25 km south of the intersection with Highway 101.

Dly July 1, 2012.

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Dense cottongrass flower, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Dense cottongrass tussock, copyright 2007 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Dense cottongrass tussock.

Location: Highway 144, 25 km south of the intersection with Highway 101.
Date: June 27, 2003.

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Carpet of dense cottongrass.

Location: Timmins
Date: June 13, 2001.

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Tawny cottongrass.

Tawny cottongrass

Flower: In a tuft at or near the end of stems; the long slender bristles resemble a cottonball of tawny white to copper-color; May - August

Leaves: Narrow, linear, flat, rough margins, 5 mm wide or less.

Stem: Erect, triangular in cross-section, smooth, slender; flowering stems.

Height: Up to 1.5 m.

Habitat: Peat soils and poorly drained areas; common in cranberry bogs.

Other: Perennial sedge; grows singly or in clumps of few from a rootstock.

Location: Bog east of Highway 69, along railroad, north of Estaire.
Date: August 3, 2001.

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Green Cottongrass; Perennial sedge.

Flower: Single cotton-like inflorescence (flower) at the top of a spike; 3-30 cotton-like forms at the end of a stem; the cotton tuffs are located on the end of a slender stalk; mid-summer.

Leaves: Flat and mostly at the base of the stem.

Stem: Erect, triangular in cross-section, slender; flowering stems.

Height: Up to 90 cm tall.

Habitat: Fens and open conifer swamps.

Other: Clump-forming sedge that spreads from rhizomes.

Location: Timmins.
Date: June 10, 2005

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Green cottongrass, or green cotton grass, Copyright 2007 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Green cottongrass cluster, Copyright 2007 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Cluster of Green Cottongrass.

Location: Timmins.
Date: June 10, 2005

Pitcher plant; also known as Soldier's Drinking Cup; Side-Saddle Flower.

Family: Pitcher-plant (Sarraceniaceae)

Flower: Purple or maroon; 5-7 cm wide; 5 large sepals and 5 curved petals; nodding on 3-50 cm stalks; June-July.

Leaves: Basal rosettes, 10-20 cm tall, picture-shaped, hollow; reddish-green colour; hood over opening; downward-pointing hairs on inside; contains water.

Height: up to 50 cm.

Habitat: Bogs, fens, and open swamps.

Interest: Perennial herb that traps insects in the leaf tubes. The insects are attracted to the leaves by the reddish colour and the musty small. The insects enter the tube and become trapped because the hairs that line the inside point downward. The plant digests the insects.  In 1954, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador designated the Pitcher plant as the official flower of the province.

Location: Trout Lake road bog
Date: June 4, 2006

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Pitcher plant, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Pitcher plant leaves, Copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

Close up of Pitcher plant leaves.

Location: Trout Lake bog.
Date: September 19, 2004.

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Pitcher plant leaf tube, Copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

Close up of Pitcher plant leaf tubes (left) and old flower head with 5 reddish sepals surrounding the seed pod (right).

Location: Trout Lake bog.
Date: September 19, 2004.

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Pitcher plant sepals, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

Spatula-leaf Sundew or Spoon-leaved Sundew 

Flower: White or rarely pink; 1-sided clusters; 5 sepals, 5 petals, 4-6 mm long; June-July.

Leaves: Basal rosette up to 10 cm wide; covered with reddish, sticky hairs, spoon-shaped.

Height: Close to the ground.

Habitat: Bogs, fens, and swamps, and along lakeshores.

Interest: Perennial herb that traps insects using a sticky liquid. The liquid contains a digestive enzyme that helps the plant extract the nutrients from the insect. The genus name Drosera means "dew", referring to the sticky droplets on the leaves.

Location: Killarney Lighthouse area.
Date: August 10, 2003.

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Spoon-leaved Sundew, Killarney Provincial Park, Cranberry Bog, Copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Spoon-leaved sundew, Copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

Close up of Spoon-leaved sundew leaves.

Location: Killarney Lighthouse area.
Date: August 10, 2003.

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Round-leaved Sundew

Flower: White or rarely pink; 1-sided clusters; 5 sepals, 5 petals, 4-6 mm long; June-July.

Leaves: Basal rosette up to 10 cm wide; covered with reddish, sticky hairs, round in shape.

Height: Close to the ground.

Habitat: Bogs, fens, and swamps, and along lakeshores.

Interest: Perennial herb that traps insects using a sticky liquid. The liquid contains a digestive enzyme that helps the plant extract the nutrients from the insect. The genus name Drosera means "dew", referring to the sticky droplets on the leaves.

Location: Killarney Lighthouse area.
Date: July 1, 2004.

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Round-leaved sundew, Killarney, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

Large cranberry flower, copyright 2005 Andy Fyon.

Large cranberry

Flower: White or pinkish; resembles a shooting-star; 4 petals curved backwards; 8-10 mm wide; nodding; solitary or in clusters of 2 to 6; July-August.

Leaves: Alternate; simple, oblong to elliptical, blunt to rounded tip; 5-15 mm long, 2-5 mm wide; margins rolled under.

Stem: Trailing, elongated, much-branched stem up to 1 m in length; branches into upright branchlets that are up to 20 cm tall;; bark on older stems peels to a papery outer layer.

Height: Creeping with upward branchlets 20 cm tall.

Fruit: Red, rounded, 1-2 cm in diameter; August-September.

Habitat: Wet organic swamps and sphagnum bogs.

Interest: The berries are used to make jellies, preserves, and sauce.

Location: Killarney, Lighthouse area
Date: July 10, 2005

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Large cranberry fruit

Large cranberry fruit.

Location: Kasabonika Lake First Nation
Date: August 21, 2001

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Large cranberry fruit, Killarney, Copyright 2004, Andy Fyon.

Large cranberry fruit.

Location: Killarney Lighthouse
Date: August 29, 2004

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Creeping snowberry; evergreen; occurs in mats in sphagnum bogs, conifer stands and on decaying logs.

Flower: White, bell-shaped with 4 lobes; 2-3 mm long; early summer.

Leaves: Alternate; very short stalks; round to egg-shaped; pointed tip; dark green upper surface; paler underside.

Fruit: Rounded white berry; 5 - 7 mm in diameter; July - August.

Stem: Creeping prostrate and trailing or creeping; 20 to 40 cm long.

Height: Stems up to 40 cm long.

Habitat: All damp habitats except rich hardwood stands. Common in black spruce forests.

Location: Burwash
Date: August 10, 2002.

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Creeping snowberry, Burwash, Copyright 2002 Andy Fyon.

Common wood-sorrel, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Common Wood Sorrel; native perennial; also known as Single Delight, One-flowered Pyrola, and Wood Nymph.

Flower: White or pink, both with pink veins; 5 petals; 2 cm wide; notched; on long stalks; June - July.

Leaves: Basal leaves are shaped like a shamrock; they are divided into 3 leaflets that are shaped like hearts or clover leaves; each leaflet is about 1 - 3 cm wide; leaves are reported to have a sour taste; the 3 leaflets close up at night.

Stem: Leaves at base of stem in a whorl of 1-3 leaves.

Height: Up to 15 cm; plants in the Sudbury appear to be smaller and are close to the ground.

Habitat: Prefers cool, mixed or coniferous forest floors that are moist and organic rich, edges of bogs, fens, conifer swamp and in moist mixed forests.

Other: The name The word "sorrel" comes from the French sur, meaning "sour".

Language of Flowers: Means "joy". Source

Location: Paddy Creek road
Date: June 22, 2008

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Common wood-sorrel flower

Location: Paddy Creek trail
Date: July 13, 2003

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Common wood-sorrel, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Yellow-eyed grass; native perennial; also known as Bog Yellow-eyed Grass and Northern Yellow-eyed Grass

Flower: Yellow; 1.3 cm wide; 3 petals; 6 stamens; cone-shaped, reddish-brown scale-like bracts enclose flowers; July - September.

Leaves: Iris-like; basal; up to 80 cm long and up to 1 cm wide.

Stem: Upright, smooth, may be 3-ribbed; no leaves but has a solitary, terminal flower head.

Height: 15-60 cm tall.

Habitat: Wet areas such as edges of bogs, wet peat areas, wet sand.

Location: Killarney Provincial Park, Cranberry bog
Date: August 16, 2002

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Yellow-eyed grass, Copyright 2003 Andy Fyon.

Horned bladderwort, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

Horned Bladderwort; native annual or perennial; also known as Leafless Bladderwort.

Family: Bladderwort (Lentibulariaceae) 

Flower: Yellow; 1 to 5 yellowish, 2-lipped flowers near the top of the stalk; 5 petals; about 2 cm long; lower lip large, helmet-shaped, with a pendant spur; June-September.

Leaves: Very small, threadlike, occurs below the surface and are seldom seen.

Stem: Brownish at base and becoming greenish towards the top.

Height: 2-12" (5-30 cm).

Habitat: Swampy, wet, sandy, muddy, or peaty shores, throughout grasses in the marl prairie, and in calcareous bogs and fens.

Interest: Horned bladderwort differs from other bladderworts because it is terrestrial rather than aquatic. It is a carnivorous plant and it traps and digests very small organisms in the bladders on its root system.  The bladders are small, pear-shaped pouches. The bladders open abruptly when trigger hairs are disturbed.  When the bladder opens, water is sucked in along with the aquatic insect that touched the trigger hairs. Digestive enzymes and bacteria in the bladder digest the insect for the nutritional use of the plant. When digestion is complete, the plant extracts the nutrient-rich water from the bladder into the stem and resets the bladder trap.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay
Date: August 2, 2004.

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Mass of Horned Bladderwort.

Location: Manitoulin Island, Misery Bay
Date: August 2, 2004.

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Horned bladderwort, copyright 2004 Andy Fyon.

 

Horned-bladderwort, copyright 2010 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Horned Bladderwort growing on wet ground. Note the affect of careless humans. There are vehicle tracks left behind by an ATV. The vehicle compacted and distrubed the soil. No horned bladderwort grows in the tracks.

Location: Murphy Point alvar, Manitoulin Island.
Date: July 11, 2010.

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Rose Pogonia orchid, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon

Rose Pogonia; native perennial; also known as snake Mouth or Goldcrest.

Family: Orchid (Orchidaceae)

Flower: Pink; one or occasionally two at termination of stem; sepals and petals usually pink, rarely pinkish white; petals elliptical, 1.5-2 cm long and 5-10 mm wide; prominent lip with spiky beard and a yellow centre; late June to mid July.

Leaves: One leaf present halfway up the stem at flowering time.

Stem: Erect, slender, smooth, green to brownish-green.

Height: 8-30 cm.

Habitat: Open areas on bogs, boggy shores. Usually in wet  sphagnum moss; drought intolerant.

Interest: The Greek name refers to a bearded, snake's tongue. It spreads by roots or stolons; sends up a shoot spaced as close as 5 cm, which accounts for the large number of plants in one location.

Location: Trout Lake Road bog
Date: June 17, 2006

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Close-up image of Rose-pogonia flower head.

Location: Trout Lake Road bog
Date: June 18, 2006

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Rose-pogonia orchid, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon.

Grass-pink; native perennial.

Family: Orchid (Orchidaceae)

Flower: Pink, rose-purple, rarely white; lip is uppermost in the flower; central part of lip is bearded with short cream hairs with orange knobs; lip is hinged at the base to bend forward when an insect lands on it; June-July.

Leaves: One basal leaf that is grass-like, 10-30 cm long and 3-16 mm wide.

Stem: Erect

Height: 8-30 cm.

Habitat: Open areas on bogs, boggy shores. Usually in wet  sphagnum moss.

Interest: Grows from a small tuber. Has a different strategy to  transfer pollen to the back of an insect. The flower is upside-down compared to most orchids. On top it has its lip on the bottom the column with the pollina and stigma. The lip is hinged. The flower attracts bees with yellow yellow "false" stamens on the top of the lip. This is one of the few native orchids that grows readily from seed under conditions that do not require symbiotic germination.

Calopogan is derived from the Greek words kalos "beautiful" and pogon "beard".

Location: Trout Lake Road bog
Date: June 17, 2006

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Grass-pink orchid, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon.

Grass-pink orchid flower, copyright 2006 Andy Fyon.

Profile of Grass-pink orchid.

Location: Trout Lake Road bog
Date: June 17, 2006

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Three-leaved False Solomon's-seal; native perennial; also known as Three-leaved Solomon's-plume.

Family: Liliaceae (Lily)

Flower: White to greenish white; long-stalked, unbranched clusters along top of stem; star-shaped, with 6 petals; early-June to late July.

Leaves: Alternate; generally three, but rarely may have two to four leaves; 3 - 13 cm long; oval to oblong-lance-shaped, hairless; the base tapers and slightly wraps around the stem.

Stem: Erect, slender, weak.

Height: Up to 20 cm.

Habitat: Bogs, swamps, fens and moist woods and openings; often with sphagnum moss.

Interest: Has dark red berries, up to 6 mm wide; ripening in mid-summer. Three-leaved False Solomon's-seal may be mistaken for Wild Lily of the Valley (Canada Mayflower), which 4 petals, not 6.  The base of the Canada Mayflower leave is indented and clasps the stem. The base of Three-leaved False Solomon's Seal tapers and sheathes the stem.

Location: Trout Lake Road
Date: June 2, 2007

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Three-leaved false solomon's-seal, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Three-leaved False solomon's seal, copyright 2008 Andy Fyon, www.ontariowildflower.com

Detail of flowers on Three-leaved False Solomon's Seal.

Location: Trout Lake Road
Date: June 2, 2007

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For more information email: andy@ontariowildflower.com
URL: http://www.ontariowildflower.com/bogfen.htm
© 2001 - 2012 Andy Fyon

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Andy Fyon

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