The first of the plants I stumbled on was Bunchberry or Cornus canadensis.
This plant is the smallest member of the Dogwood family. It has creeping rhizomes that allow it to create small colonies such as the one in the photo above. A closer look at the flowers reveals they look just like the flowers on a larger dogwood tree.
Also carpeting the forest floor was numerous varieties of ferns. I must have seen a half dozen species today and I'm not even sure what they all were. Unfortunately I did not look closely enough at this colony of ferns to be able to identify them after the fact.
There are several ferns which form colonies and have a similar shape to this plant. I would need to have an identification book on hand to be able to know what these ferns were.
Due to this fern's distinctive shape I was easily able to identify it from photos. It is the Sensitive Fern or Onoclea sensibilis.
The fern below looks very similar to the Sensitive Fern but the leaves appear to be individual rather than joined. I haven't managed to identify it yet.
In addition we saw Cinnamon ferns and Bracken ferns.
Overhead there were many trees that caught my attention. The first was this Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum).
The distinctive leaves are almost impossible not to notice. They are so large (up to 1 foot wide!) and the shape is unlike any tree I know of. Despite the large leaves it is not a large tree. Rather it grows only to 15 - 30 feet tall. The other distinctive feature is it's lovely striped bark.
|The trunk on this tree is small but you can just see the stripes that identify it.|
The other tree I spotted today that made me squeal with delight was this blooming Alternate Leafed Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia).
This diminutive tree is also known as the Pagoda Dogwood and is often used in ornamental plantings. It's branches form horizontal layers and it's flat top is reminiscent of Pagodas.
I have saved the best for last. Heading back down the hill on the last leg of the hike we discovered a secluded grove that held an amazing sight.
This is a clump of Pink Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule). I wish I could show you the extent of this grouping but my crappy camera phone really didn't do even marginal justice to these beautiful plants.
|Camera phones can be frustratingly fuzzy|
There were literally dozens of these plants scattered across the forest floor, all in full bloom. A very rare sight that I exclaimed over to my husband who couldn't understand the significance. The pink lady's slipper is the provincial flower of Prince Edward Island and is named after the flowers distinctive shape which looks like a dainty slipper. They require a very specific habitat, usually in the mossy undergrowth of hardwood forests. Lady slippers are part of the orchid family and like many orchids are very difficult to propagate. The seeds require contact with a beneficial fungus in order to survive and transplanting is often difficult as the plant has very few and very fine roots that don't transplant well, in addition to requiring a specific environment to live in. So you can begin to understand just how amazing it was to come across such a large grouping of these flowers. We hiked over 8 kilometers today and only saw these orchids in one very small grove. They obviously have just the right habitat in which to live and multiply.