Picea mariana (black spruce),
Bloodvein River watershed, NW Ontario;
|The boreal forest of Ontario is made up primarily of conifers in the Pinaceae, such as black and white spruce (Picea mariana and P. glauca, the former pictured below), jack pine (Pinus banksiana), tamarack (Larix laricina), and fir (Abies balsamea). Broad-leaved trees are mainly white birch (Betula papyrifera) and poplars (Populus tremuloides, P. balsamifera), although American elm (Ulmus americana) forms gallery forests along rivers flowing through the boreal forest, and species in several other genera are also found. If you compare this species list with the tree species tabulated for the mixed and deciduous forests of Ontario you will find that the ranges of all of these tree species extend south into the mixed forest, and beyond, wherever local conditions rule out competition from other species. To the north the boreal forest becomes increasingly sparse (barrens) until it is replaced by tundra on the coast of Hudson Bay.|
Byron Bog, London ON; photo L. M. Dickinson - © L. M. Dickinson
Boreal forest species are adapted not only to low temperatures and a wide range of moisture conditions, but also to conditions of very reduced nutrient availability that result from, among other things, the very young, hence nutrient-poor, soils. For this reason low-lying, poorly-drained sites (e.g. kettle bogs) in the mixed and deciduous forest regions of Ontario often are occupied by species characteristic of the boreal forest since cold air drainage, waterlogging, and acidification due to the growth of Sphagnum moss all contribute to much reduced nutrient availability. For more information about bogs, visit the super site set up by E. M. Temsch.
[back to top] [back to the Ontario flora page] [Earth Sciences Center - Boreal planting]
| What are plant families? | How do we distinguish them? | How and why do we study them? | Selected vascular plant families of Ontario | Reading List | Course outline |
Home Page | What's New | U
of T Ecology & Evolutionary Biology | University of Toronto
2008 Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and 2000-2006 Botany Department, University of Toronto.
© 2008 Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and 2000-2006 Botany Department, University of Toronto.