Wildflowers and Orchids
The Tip ’O’ the Bruce, encompassing both Fathom Five National Marine Park and Bruce Peninsula National Park provides visitors with a spectacle of wildflowers and wildlife.
At various times throughout the spring and summer you may see Dwarf Lake Iris, Yellow Lady’s Slipper, Striped Coral root, Showy Lady’s Slipper, Grass Pink, Rose Pogonia, Fringed Gentian, or Cardinal flower. Through Singing Sands Nature Reserve at Dorcas Bay you are likely to spot delicate orchids or carnivorous plants. In early June, the yellow lady’s slipper grows in abundance along the roadsides.
The Bruce Peninsula with 41 species is the orchid capital of Canada. Thirty-three of these are found within the two National Parks. In addition, the Bruce’s most famous wildflower, the Alaska Rein Orchid, grows quite commonly in dry evergreen forests right at the Cyprus Lake campground.
The stunning variety and abundance of orchids on the northern Bruce reflect the diverse living conditions found here. The Bruce offers a potpourri of habitats, from the rugged, rocky Georgian Bay Shoreline to the flat, sandy Lake Huron Shore, with a wide selection of wetlands, woodland and rocky areas in between. Orchids possess a singular beauty and perplexing fickleness where and when to bloom. One of the rarest of them all has to be the exquisite Calypso. Rarely rising above shoe lace level, the solitary pink, white, golden-yellow and reddish brown flower has its lower petal shaped like a dainty ’fairy slipper,’ topped by several mauve-pink petals and sepals.
It sits pendant on a thin, flesh-coloured stem suspended above an oval, furrowed, dark green basal leaf which first appeared the previous fall. It blooms with the spring violets from mid-May to the end of June and although its habitat is commonplace the Calypso is rare. In order to grow, they must be invaded: nourished by a special soil fungus until they are large enough to look after themselves. No fungus, no Calypso, which means the orchids are impossible to transplant.
Help us protect the Bruce’s orchids and other wildflowers so that future generations may also be thrilled by their splendour.