Edited by Senior Wetland Ambassador Michaela
As a wetland ambassador, it is my job to record the well-being of our native trees, here I will record the progress of our trembling Aspens, how they are thriving or how they didn’t take when planted.
In the Fall of 2019 our team planted a number of Aspen trees (4), all trees seemed to adapt nicely, staying alive over the winter. All trees bore leaves this spring, however one out of our four Aspens began to lose its leaves, turning yellow with brown to black spots which is a result of under-watering. Due to the 2 week hot flash we faced this summer towards the end of July beginning of August, our trees dried out resulting in one of them to get sick.
We have and will continue to increase the trees water intake but not so much that it will drown, the other trees have lost a few leaves due to the hot weather, however they have made a nice recovery now that they are and will continue to get the right amount of water.
(Populus tremuloides) Trembling Aspen, Quaking Aspen.
Range : seen throughout British Columbia, towards the east of the cascade mountain range, extending from the valley bottom to 4000’ in elevation. Aspens are found in occasional groups on Vancouver island, but are even sparser in coastal forest zones.
Characteristics : in the dry interior Aspens gather in low spreading groves 20’ – 30’ high, where there is evidence of moisture. Aspens do well in wetter regions, where Aspens will grow to be 80’ high, these have straight trunks, 16” in diameter and carry on their top halves a loose, rounded crown of brittle branches. The characteristic groves of Aspen result from spreading roots which will ultimately send up tree shoots.
(Acer saccharum) sugar maple, rock maple.
Range : Native to the hardwood forest of eastern Canada, located from nova scotia, spreading west throughout Quebec to southeast Manitoba, lake of the woods.
Characteristics : the sugar maple will grow at a faster rate if healthy and taken care of, 24” a year. The tree will grow to be between 60’-75’ with a spread of 40’-50’ in diameter. With a shallow root system they are well adapted to wet soil conditions apposed to dry hot conditions. Most maples including the sugar maple thrive better in wetter soil or weather. The leaves can reach between 4”-7” in length, bearing a bright green color, changing to a deep red in the autumn.
After planting our sugar maple tree two winters ago, it had become noticeable that there were cracks starting to form on the base of the maple tree. This was concerning to our team given the good health of our tree, bearing bright green leaves with no signs of diseases or parasites I did some digging, cracks in maple trees are common, both the bark and wood contain water, this causes the tree to swell or then shrink in response to an increase or decrease in temperature. Alternation between hot and cold weather can cause the tree to put on sudden growth which will ultimately end up in cracks in the bark, and in some unfortunate cases the wood. Also planting the tree too close to the end of fall will cause the tree to go into shock which allows the frost of winter to sleep in, causing the bark to split.
Our sugar leaf maple has also recently produced seed pods or ‘helicopters / propellers’
(Vaccinium oxvcoccus) high bush cranberry
Range : commonly seen throughout small bogs or swamps throughout British Columbia, located near and in the coastal forest bogs, even found along the Alaskan highway.
Characteristics : belonging to the blueberry family, the actual cranberry bush bears little in common, they actually live in peaty, mossy, bogs. The cranberry bush consists of a very thin vine, 4’ long and almost hidden in the moss. Branches stem out from this vine, bearing blossoms and sometimes even berries in its proper habitat. Cranberry bushes have a very shallow root system, stemming only 6 inches under the ground, they are able to reach between 2’-6’ off the ground.
September, 11th, 2020 we purchased a high bush cranberry after our last one unfortunately did not survive the summer, after doing some more research we are better equipped to handle this plant. The location of our last cranberry bush was too dry, not enough moisture was kept in the soil in order to keep the plant happy. The leaves turned brown and eventually fell off, leaving nothing to the plant.
When our team plants our second high bush cranberry, it will be placed in a different location. Here it will receive shade from our Ash trees during the heat of the day, the branches of the Ash will also provide protection against the snow for the cranberry bush. Here the soil is kept moist, but is in a bright location where it receives a maximum of 4 hours of direct sunlight.
(Gaultheria hispidula or Chiogenes hispidula) – creeping snowberry
(Symphoricarpos) – snowberry
Range : Growing wild in Alaska and down the west coast of Canada near Vancouver and further south to the US border, growing along the coast of washington. Located in swampy bogs near the rocky mountains, also located in the interior wet belt, sicamous.
Characteristics : Belonging to the Honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, the plant and berry are naturally sweet to taste. Growing small white, soft berries on the end of a thin long branch covered in small oval like leaves, which have tiny black hairs on the underside of the leaf. The green stems are covered in light red hairs, short spines are located on the stem next to the berry. The bush does well surrounded by damp wet logs, grass near the edge of a bog.
Snowberries are toxic, given that they contain saponins which is poisonous, however humans poorly absorb it. Eating a few snowberries or using them for medical uses is fine if you have the proper knowledge on the plant and medicinal uses, otherwise it will cause violent vomiting and diarrhea, even death in extreme cases.
Throughout the progress of our wetland, we have purchased a few (4-8 give or take) snowberry plants seeing how they thrive in the location we have placed them. Receiving sun in the early morning, and late in the evening during the summer and spring months, receiving shade for the rest of the day until sun down. The plants receive quite a bit of water in early spring due to flooding, however it doesn’t seem to cause harm or stress to the plant. After April the wetland fields have dried up, we make sure to water our snowberry shrubs once a week, twice if needed during drought.
Each of our snowberry plants have produced full white berries located on the ends of the branches, bearing fruit well into late fall, early winter.
Once our wetland garden is more grounded we will begin to harvest the berries produced by our snowberry shrubs in order to dry them out for snowberry-raisins to show the progress of our wetland garden-forest.
(Crataegus Douglasii) Black Hawthorne or Douglas’ Thornapple.
Range : Found growing wild in low to middle mountain elevations, commonly seen along road sides and fields with a large range throughout the southern half of British Columbia. Loves to grow next to streams or rivers because of the water.
Characteristics : the Black Hawthorne can grow to be a small bush or to be 20ft tall, the spines on the Hawthorne are between 1 inch and 1/5 inches. The bark is a dirty green color, rough and scale – like often covered with patches of Lichen. The young shoots are smooth and shiny. With thickish oval leaves that are 3inches long, in the spring there are many clusters of white blossoms during April and may, followed by bunches of small black-purple berries ripe by late July early August.
August 2020, this summer we had purchased quite a few different fruit producing native trees, the black Hawthorne being one of them. We gained two Hawthorne trees, they did well after being planted in our wetland garden, having the tree be able to adapt to the new environment was a huge achievement for our project. We will monitor our trees over the winter and well into the next spring, 2021.
Once our Hawthorne trees have fully adapted to their new environment, and begin to produce berries, we will be harvesting the fruit in order to make Jams or other yummy treats in order to show the progress of the fruiting trees.
(Sambucus Cerulea – S. Glauca) Blue-Berry Elder
Range : Found in dry places like the Gulf island zone, Malahat, Duncan, Alberni. Occasionally the Blue Elder is found in the upper North part of the Fraser valley. Abundant from pPrinceton to Penticton in the dry interior zone, also found along the Nelson trails.
Characteristics : Blue Elder partly overlaps Red Elders in range but tends to grow in dry open situations. Leaves are generally in the mines although fives and sevens aren’t that uncommon. The flower heads are white, flat and rang from 5”-8” across. This particular Elder blooms in late August, the berries will form and give off a dark blue / black color.
Over the summer of August 2020 our team was able to purchase 4-8 Blue Elder trees to add to our wetland garden, most of the Elder trees did well after being re planted in their new environment. Most of the saplings lost their leaves and turned brown, however a few of them have produced new leaves over the fall. We will watch over them over the winter months, come spring we will be able to monitor them a bit better. We will be able to record their progress once they start to produce new nodes and leaflets in the up coming spring of 2021.
One of our Blue Elders did not do well, I took it upon myself to care for the tree. I potted it and brought it inside for the winter, the plant formed new leaflets and branches. It now has multiple leaves as well as stems after being cared for, for around 2 months; October 1st – present date.
( Corylus spp.) Hazelnut
Range : C. California, vicinity of Victoria on Vancouver island, located in the coastal and interior wet belt zones, ranging from sea level to 2,500ft at the coast and 4,000ft near Revelstoke. C.Cornuta, central B.C, Hazelton, McBride.
Characteristics : loves to grow in dry yet wet rocky places where it is known to thrive, prefers shade in the heat of the day. It has many thin stems that spread upwards from the main stalk, each stem is covered in heavy green foliage. Hazel trees can reach up to 20ft tall but generally doesn’t surpass 12ft in height. Yellow coloured catkins hand from the thin stems. The fruit is ready by fall, late August.
During the first months of our wetland we had purchased a single tall-Hazel nut tree. It has actually survived two winters, going onto it’s third this winter coming up. Receiving sun in the morning from 6 – 9 am, then receives shade in the afternoon, gaining sunlight again from 4pm- sun down. We water our hazelnut tree throughout the dry seasons, August mainly. Otherwise it seems to thrive. This has lead us to plant several more this summer – August 2020 ; they have all seemed to adapt to their new environment. We will have more to add this spring – 2021
(Lonicera Involucrata) – Black twinberry
Rang : Found though out wetlands across British Columbia, however the Black Twinberry is especially abundant in the Coastal and interior wet belt zones. Ranging from sea level to alpine nights. Located in North Central B.C, Quesnel, Peace River, Bella Coola, Chilcotin.
Characteristics : Black Twinberry is a shrub 3’-10’ high, growing on damp ground yearly. The shrub likes to be shaded by other, taller, bushier, plants such as; crabapple or red-osier dogwood, in some cases salmonberry, water Birch or cow parsnip. The yellow twin flowers are ½” long, flowering in may and June, by August the Black berries are ripe to eat, the long oval like leaves shading the berries from the harsh conditions.
Nothing to add just yet…
(Amelanchier Spp.) – Saskatoon Berry; June berry, shadbush, service berry.
There are many different species of Saskatoon Berry in North America, these are the species recognized in B.C; A. Alnifolia and A. Cusickii are found in the same range. A. Florida is found on the coast.
Rang : A. Florida is the only species found west of the cascades, found in the open on hill sides 2000’ in elevation. A. Cusickii is very common in the dry interior zone while A. Alnifolia ranges from the rocky mountains north and west throughout central B.C and into the Yukon.
Characteristics : The Saskatoon plant is commonly referred to as a shrub as it only grows to be between 2’-12’ however it is known to grow larger than that, sometimes surpassing 15’. Bearing small oval, jagged leaves that are 1 ½” long, the white flowers are ½” long, blooming in April and may, the berries take the summer to turn from bright red to almost black. The berries become ripe in the early fall (late August)
In the spring of 2019 we gained a few Saskatoon Berry bushes, planting them next to our western red cedars across from the wetlands second pond. All our Saskatoon bushes produced berries this year, which the birds really seemed to enjoy. In the fall of 2020 we gained a few more Saskatoon Berry bushes, planting them in our wetland garden as well. We will be watching over them well into next spring to monitor their progress in their new environment.
(Rosa spp.) – Wild Roses
Over 100 different types of Roses grow in North America, at least 6 grow in British Columbia.
Each plant features white to deep red rose petals, with a powerful, fragrant perfume. Most plants have leaves with an odd number of leaflets, the rosehips or the “fruit” which hang on to the branch of the plant all winter are used as medicine. Most Rose plants have prickles running along their stems.
Swamp Rose – R. pisocarpa
This specific type of Rose is weakly armed with straight spines, Leaflets 5-7, several flowers form on twig ends, creating a cluster of Rose flowers. The fruit is rather small compared to other Rose plants.
Dwarf Rose – R. gymnocarpa
A spindly shrub that grows to be 4’ high, it bears slender twig like stems, prickly and weak. It grows between 5-9 leaflets, with pale pink flowers ½” – ¾” across. The fruit is smooth and orange in colour, found mainly on rock mountain sides, it ranges through lower elevation level of British Columbia.
Common Rose – R. nutkana
This is probably the most common of all the Rose plants, it is a bushy shrub that can grow to be 10’ high, it is heavily armed with stout prickles beneath each leaf. They bear flowers 2” across, either singularly or in pairs. Fruit, a large shower red rosehip bloom in late may – June. They prefer and thrive in nutrient rich soil, ranging throughout British Columbia, at the lower elevations.
In the late summer of August 2020 we received our wild Rose shrubs, planting them soon After receiving them. We as a team, managed to incorporate the shrubs into our wetland garden area, which is filled with plants that produce berries or fruit. Once established, they should thrive within our wetland garden. We will continue to monitor the Rose plants into spring 2021.
(Berberis spp.) – Oregon grape, Mahonia, Holly grape, Barberry
The Oregon grape plant or Mahonia, is distinguished by it’s evergreen foliage or ‘holy luke’s leaflets, for no other syrup or plant bears any resemblance to it. There is also a lot of debate involving the differences and the similarities between the three different species. The one thing they have in common is the ‘holy like’ leaves and the bright yellow flowers which bloom in early summer.
Oregon grape – B.nervosa
The Oregon grape has dull leaflets, 11-21 per leaf, it has three central vines. It prefers shade from the heavy forest growth, displaying little variation in shape as this plant is under 2’ tall with several fern-like sprays of Leaflets. Generally growing in lower elevations in the coastal and interior belt
Tall Mahonia (tall oregon grape) – B. aquifolium
The tall Mahonia has shiny leaflets, 5-11 per leaf. It has one main, central vein, it favors open locations such as; road sides, stony clearings, cliff sides. This is probably the most commonly recognized plants. It has thick, irregular stems growing to be 3’-5’ in hight but more often it looks like a sprawling shrub. Bright yellow flowers bloom during May 15-June 15. After the flowers die off dark blue berries with witish bloom will form by August and hang to ripen till late In the fall they make good jelly when ripe by the first frost. Native Americans used the bright yellow wood to dye clothing and other things. It is found throughout British Columbia on exposed locations, altitude range to 4000’ in the interior.
Creeping Mahonia – B. repens
This smaller shrub has dull leaflets, 2-7 per leaf. It has a main vain running through the center of the leaf, very similer to M. aquifolium but less than a foot high. The spines are thinner and weaker, the under part of the leaf is a soft witish green. Widely spread throughout British Columbia, on dry places 6,000’ elevation.
In the spring of 2020 we purchased a tall Oregon grape, planting it next to our garden fence area where it will receive shade from the giant ash trees in the afternoon. Unfortunately it lost all of it’s leaves shortly after planting it, however it had bloomed, bearing yellow flowers, it had also produced lumpy blue berries. We will definitely be keeping a watch on this particular plant in our wetland garden area, monitoring it during the early spring as well.
(Typha latifolia) – Cat-tails, Tule, Bulrush
Cat-tails are one of the easiest recognized plants in North America due to its wide distribution throughout Canada and the united states of America, there is only one species known. At the top of the cat-tail is a spongy dark brown spike 4”-8” long and 1” thick, it contains the pollen used in reproduction. The leaves are very long and thin, flat on both sides and is an inch wide. The Native Americans in the interior used the thin leaves to weave baskets and mats. Cat-tails were found growing in shallow muddy water next to the shore.
Cat-tails range throughout British Columbia, they are most plentiful around swamps and bogs of the interior zones and middle elevation zones.
Scouring Rush – Equisetum hyemale
The scouring rush is recognized very easily due to its ridged green stem marked into different sections by narrow ash-colored / black bands. The hollow stems will pull apart into short sections. The finely ridged stems are pretty gritty to the touch thus leading to their name. several species with various slight differences to the scouring rush can be found in the same or close by locations.
In the fall of 2018 we got permission to transplant some local cat-tails into our own wetland, we planted them in the far end of our first pond. By spring 2019 the cat tails took off, growing incredibly fast and spreading like crazy. The taller cat-tails soon started to produce babies, pushing further out across the wetlands. Over the past two years, after adding the cat-tails, we have noticed a larger amount of birds coming to our wetland – Mallard Ducks, Mourning Doves, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Blue Herons, Ravens, Eagles, Hawks, Ospreys, Finches, Barn swallows, and we have even seen an owl in the great Ash tree overlooking the wetland. We have seen a few birds making nests out of the dried cat-tails we pull out in order to maintain the wetland so the cat-tails don’t completely take over the ponds.
We have noticed that the Mallard ducks in particular, love the ponds now that the cat-tails have taken over, it creates the perfect hiding spot for them along with a great resting place. We have had quite a few pairs of ducks land and spend the night in our ponds.
(Juniperus communis var. saxatilis) – Dwarf Juniper or common Juniper
Crawling Juniper – J. horizontalis
This Juniper is seen closer to the ground, sending out branches that creep along the forest floor. This particular Juniper does not have a noticeable bloom, seeing as the flowers appear on the shorter bent stalks. Berry seeds very, anywhere between 1-4 seeds within a single dark blue berry, where a dwarf or common Juniper have 2 or 3.
The crawling Juniper along with the Dwarf/common Juniper are found throughout British Columbia, most frequently found at sub-alpine and alpine elevations on Vancouver island and coastal area. Commonly found on mountain or rocky cliff sides, in the interior. Its also found along the Alaskan highway, the Yukon and the Rocky Mountains.
Rocky mountain Juniper – Juniperus scopulorum
Generally is a bushy, shrub like tree, with one or sometimes even several short, thick trunks, 8” thick, 6’-15’ in height, can appear to be pristine or sometimes appears ragged and crawling in its natural shape. It has thin stringy bark with a reddish-brown tint, bearing lumpy blue berries, requiring 2 years to ripen before consumption, containing 1 or 2 smoothly grooved seeds inside the berry.
The Rocky Mountain Juniper is found east of the cascades, found occasionally seen in central British Columbia, scattered through the Golf islands. Thrives in the dry interior zones and the Cariboo region, seen along the peace river as well.
In 2018 we gained quite a few creeping Junipers along with Dwarf Junipers, we planted them along side our wetland banks on the dryer part of the land. They seemed to do alright when we planted them in mid summer, thriving greatly, up until winter however they did not produce berries. In the spring of 2019 we purchased a few more of both Creeping and Dwarf Junipers, after noticing how the wetland floods in early spring we noticed the Junipers under a few inches of water. We removed the Junipers we planted in 2018, then planted together both the Junipers we got in 2018 and 2019, creating a small Juniper grove with the ones that survived. In the Fall of 2020 we were given donation Junipers that we then planted in with our others. We have around 6-12 Junipers now, all thriving and producing berries which the birds and other animals love to eat. We will be watching over our shrubs during the winter and into the spring, we are hoping to purchase some Rocky mountain Junipers in 2021.