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Journal of Saint-François |  Plant wealth that must be preserved

Journal of Saint-François | Plant wealth that must be preserved

Spring has been upon us for a few weeks. Oh how beautiful! The buds are waking up, the snow has melted forever, and the sugar season is drawing to a close. In the forests of southern Quebec, dozens of native spring plant varieties are beginning their life cycle.

Some, like the white trillium, will soon cover the forest floor in large colonies, a true sight. Others will spread here and there in a certain space, such as the noble liverwort with its various colors. Some will be very small, like the Carolina Claytonia which can spew its seeds up to 60cm! Others will be larger, such as the large-flowered lollipop, with its elegant, wrinkled-looking lemon-yellow flowers. Some will have really special features!

For example, the Bloodwort plant has a red latex sap, and the Pink Lady's Slipper actually looks like a male! Some will be ephemeral (their aerial parts only survive for a few weeks) such as American erythron which has light green and copper mottled leaves. There's a lot to be said about spring forest flowers!

Despite all their specific characteristics, they have one thing in common: they are a wealth of our natural heritage. Oh yes! The vernal plants of eastern North America are distinctive: by their biology, specific living environment and vulnerability.

In fact, many of these plants are slow-growing, taking years before they first flower, and they are exceptionally long-lived. For example, Trails can be a hundred years old! No wonder many species of spring woodland flowers are considered endangered by law.

However, what is even more amazing is the belief that these plants bloom so early in the season, that the leaves have not even appeared. This is because these plants absolutely need full spring sun, a period that only lasts a few weeks. So they rush to store and complete their life cycle in record time! They add color to the forest floor above all other plants.

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They are found mainly in rich maple groves, some in mixed and coniferous forests, or in microclimates. Did you know that our territory is one of the richest in the whole of Quebec?

However, forests that provide a suitable environment for forest flowers are becoming increasingly rare.

The health of the population is fragile, and their future is uncertain. Many natural environments have been destroyed, trampled by machines, and destroyed to build new neighborhoods. The forests are fragmented and isolated from each other by roads. Our nature is polluted by all kinds of humans or companies. Plants are uprooted from their habitat for our horticultural pleasure.

Did you know that the majority of native woodland plants found in garden centers are taken from the natural environment? Of course, I recommend adding native plants to our landscape, but not just any plants! There is a big difference between White Trillium and New England Aster or Goldenrod. Trilliums take 7 to 10 years before they flower and spread, while Aster and Goldenrod are ubiquitous and easy to grow and propagate. The choice is easy.

Knowing all this, shouldn't we be more grateful and amazed that we can still access this pink reward? What actions can we take, individually and collectively, to protect our nature? What do we want to leave for future generations?

Well done to everyone already at work! For others, I invite you to explore your environment with new curiosity! Go on a treasure hunt and discover amazing and unusual spring plants! As of the second week of April, you should be able to observe 3 to 8 species for each type of environment (coniferous forests, maple groves, mixed forests). Some are older than others, or have a short flowering period: it pays to go there often! (Obviously, common sense dictates not to select them, transplant them, or modify their environment.)

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Hoping that you will make great discoveries and collect wonders! Happy spring everyone!
Audrey Bordeaux