Canada has a rich diversity of flora occupying its equally diverse ecological regions, such as the warm temperate broadleaf forests of Ontario, the arctic plains of northern Canada, the temperate rainforests in the west coast, arid deserts, and tundra plains, just to name a few. These regions have, however, been altered due to human activities, thus placing the plants therein at risk of declines in their respective populations. These activities include deforestation, industrial activities and unsustainable agricultural practices. Legislation that has been put up to conserve these plants and their natural habitats are not strictly enforced therefore damage is still present.
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
American ginseng is a herbaceous perennial plant in the ivy family native to eastern North America, mostly found in the province of Ontario in Canada and in the Appalachian and Ozark Mountain Ranges' deciduous forests in the United States. The plant has forked roots and leaves which were exploited for medicine by the Native Americans. The ginseng grows under total shade conditions provided by the deciduous forests. Ginseng has palmate compound leaves arranged in a single whorl, oblong leaves, solitary stems of around 2 to 6 centimeters, and one flower umbel per stem. The flowers are greenish-white producing red berry-like fruits. The plant has been classified as a vulnerable species due to its specific habitat conditions, along with over-exploitation for commercial purposes.
Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum)
The nodding trillium is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows from an underground rhizome into one or more unbranched stems of 15 to 60 centimeters. At the apex of each stem is a whorl of three pointed bracts and a perfect solitary flower on stronger stems. The flower has three pale green sepals and three broad mainly white petals with six purple stamens and a single pistil. The fruit looks like a berry of around 3 centimeters in diameter, and is reddish and six-lobed. Its habitats are mainly areas with fertile, moist soils in broad-leaf and coniferous forests and are widely distributed in the northeastern regions of North America.
Red Bearberry (Arctostaphylos rubra)
The red bearberry is a dwarf prostrate shrub that is native to North America. The shrub is found in the arctic and subarctic regions and is deciduous shedding leaves in autumn. The red bearberry coarse well-drained or excessively drained soils of forests, sand dunes or barren lands and does well in partial shades of forest canopies. In Canada, the plant is found on the northern side to northern Quebec. The red fruit is a favorite for the Bears and is sometimes gathered for human consumption. The plant has simple evergreen leaves, trailing stems on flexible branches, a single root, and urn-shaped perfect flowers.
Bog Labrador Tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum)
Bog Labrador Tea is an aromatic shrub that grows to around one meter in height with twigs that are densely covered with what appear similar to hairs. The leaves are alternate and evergreen. The plant has numerous white flowers with a fine-toothed sepal and five separate petals. The fruit of the bog is a small fuzzy capsule with a persistent style at the tip. The bog is found in the middle to low elevations of North America including the boreal forests of Canada. The habitats for the bog Labrador tea are in bogs, open tundra, marshes, and dwarf shrub communities. The plant faces a threat from habitat destruction.
Other Native Canadian Plants
The purple prairie clover, sand cherry, Pallas’ wallflower little evening primrose, Showy orchid, and the commons eelgrass are among the other native species of flora occupying the diverse habitats in Canada. These plants face threats to their existence due to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as over-exploitation.