Plantlife on Pelee Island


Pelee Island is home to lush deciduous and carolinian forests, marsh areas, lagoons, alvar, and more. In terms of plant life on the island you can find a multitude of rare species including some of what is listed below. Please note that species listed as threatened or endangered are listed as such on the species at risk in Ontario list and may not fall under the same classification on a national or international level.

The ripe dark purple coloured fruit of a Red Mulberry tree.

Red Mulberry

The red mulberry is an endangered species of tree found in very select areas throughout Canada. As of 2014 a study of the Red Mulberry in Canada found that there were only 217 of the trees in Canada with only 105 of them considered to be at a reproductive age.

The red mulberry tree can grow anywhere in the range of 6 - 18 metres tall with large heart shaped leaves. The tree grows a small deep red, almost purple coloured fleshy fruit that typically ripens by mid-July.

If you keep a close eye out this tree has previously been found at both Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve, Stone Road Alvar, and likely some private properties throughout the island.

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Eastern Prickly-pear Cactus

The eastern prickly-pear cactus is an endangered species of perennial succulent cacti. The plant grows only in dry sandy areas with nearly constant sun, these plants cannot survive in the shade. This plant is only found in a very select few areas of southwestern Ontario and while it is difficult to find in the wild on Pelee Island, it can be easily seen in the gardens of the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion.

The prickly-pear cactus plant has been known to grow up to 0.5 metres in height. Much like most cacti this plant is covered in barbs, or spikes. Yellow flowers also grow at the ends of each of the cacti pads.

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Kentucky Coffee Tree

The Kentucky Coffee-tree is a threatened species of tree in Ontario. As of the year 2000 the Kentucky Coffee-tree was documented in only 20 locations throughout Ontario. The trees typically grow at a rate of 1-2 feet per year and can reach up to 25 metres high with a trunk width of approximately 1 metre.

The Kentucky Coffee-tree’s leaves are the largest of any tree in Canada. The tree also grows large bean like pods that have a hard, almost leather like exterior and typically contain anywhere from 4-7 seeds.

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American Water Willow

The American Water Willow is a threatened species of aquatic plant that can grow up to 1 metre tall. The plant is only known to grow in 10 locations throughout Canada. The plant can grow in water up to 1.2 metres deep or in wet soil that experiences occasional flooding.

The American Water Willow has long narrow leaves, and white or light purple flowers. The plant is mainly pollinated by bees and therefore plays an important role in the conservancy of the bee population.

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A lone-standing blue ash tree.

Blue Ash

The Blue Ash is a threatened species of tree that can grow up to 20 metres tall and up to 25 centimetres in diameter. The tree has elongated oval shaped leaves with coarse edges. These trees can be found all throughout the island and can live 125-150 years.

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The leaves of a dwarf hackberry.

Dwarf Hackberry

The Dwarf Hackberry is a small tree that can grow up to 10 metres tall but will typically only grow in the 1-4 metre tall range. The leaves are teardrop shaped and the plant features small round orange fruits that are a source of food for birds and mammals.

On Pelee Island the only area that you are likely to find the Dwarf Hackberry in the southwestern portion of the island around Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve.

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Purple Twayblade

The Purple Twayblade is a threatened species of small orchid that can grow up to 25 centimetres tall. Anywhere from 5 to 30 green to purple flowers grow along the greenish purple stem and at the base of the plant are two broad shiny green leaves.

On Pelee Island the Purple Twayblade can be found in a very small area on the east side of the island.

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Scarlet Ammannia

The Scarlet Ammannia is a small plant that can grow up to 1 metre high. The plants can sometimes brand and have relatively thick leaves that grow anywhere from 1.5 to 8 centimetres in length. The Scarlet Ammannia grows 1 to 3 small lavender coloured flowers at the base of each leaf stem.

The Scarlet Ammannia can be found in some areas near the north end of Pelee Island.

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Wild Hyacinth

The Wild Hyacinth is a large perennial plant related to the lily and can grow up to 70 centimetres tall. The plant produces bluish-purple flowers with beautifully contrasting yellow anthers

The Wild Hyacinth can be found in a number of locations across Pelee Island but is likely the only place that you will have the opportunity to see it in Canada.

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