Monday, June 7, 2010

99 Plants for the Summer

It seems the best way to maintain a consistent posting rhythm I need a theme. Well I've found a new one. In 2008 a took a class called Flowering Plant Diversity at McGill University - awesome class btw. One of the objectives of the class was to be able to identify 99 different plant species of Quebec and know where these bad boys liked to live. It was hard, no, it was grueling ; especially since I had just met my favorite distraction a.k.a my present day hubby. To keep a long story shot, let's just say that I didn't put as much energy into memorizing as I should of and now 2 years later, I remember very few of the 99 and find myself giving a camp on the forest during which I am pretty sure I will be asked to identify LOADS of plants.

To reduce the number or "I don't know"s,  " it might be"s, and frantic field guide thumbing, I have decided to bring you along on my race to relearn all 99. During the class I took notes and drew most specimens so when possible I will try to include pictures of my notebook to prove to you and to myself that I have actually, at one point in my life seen these plants in the wild.

Let's start with trees since they will be the main focus of the camp.

Family: Aceraceae
Common characteristics: Opposite leaves, and the fruit is a schizocarp (mostly refered to as helicopters or samaras).

Acer negundo - Manitoba maple, Elf maple, Box Elder, Érable à Giguère

This is the only North American Maple to have pinnately compound leaves (3 to 7 leaflets). It can grow quite tall (10-25m) and is frequently found along the roads in Montreal.

It enjoys full sunlight and ample supplies of water. It is often found in riparian zones (flood plains).


Acer pensylvanicum - Striped Maple, Moose Maple, Érable de Pensylvanie

Young Striped Maples look like they are wearing pajamas because of the green and white striped trunk. Although still striped, the pattern is not as obvious when it's older.  It's a small tree or a very large bush, it's average height is between 5-10m (a woody plant is considered a bush under 8m). It has big broad palmate leaves with three forward pointing lobes.

This tree is mostly found in the understory of cool, moist forests. It's extremely shade-tolerant and will never become a canopy tree. 


 Acer rubrum - Red Maple, Swamp Maple, Érable Rouge

I wrote about this tree in one of my Spring Time in the City posts, you can find it by clinking here. I posted pictures of the flowers.  It's a medium size tree (18-27m), it generally has red petioles and small branches and  a ''V'' shape between it's 3 lobes.

It can grow most anywhere, it's a very tolerant tree.


There are three more Maples present in Quebec but I'm going to stop here for tonight. I've got to save some for tomorrow. So 3 down, 96 to go!
Tune in tomorrow to find out what makes popcorn pop.

Take care!

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