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Wildflowers of the Fletcher Wildlife Garden

by Christine Hanrahan

The growing popularity of wildflower gardening has led to an increased interest in seeing these plants in the wild. Here at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden (FWG), we provide a little bit of that "wild" where you can see a diverse mix of native and non-native wildflowers growing in profusion. It is worth visiting our site several times during the year as each season brings its own delights. To make your visit more enjoyable, tuck a wildflower field guide and a small hand-lens into your pocket and pick up a copy of our trail guide with its map of the garden.


We know how tempting it is to pick flowers, but please don't! Uprooting or picking plants before they have had a chance to set seed means fewer plants will grow in subsequent years. Many of these plants are also an important food source for wildlife. Butterflies and bees feed on the nectar and birds and small mammals depend on the seeds.


TiarellaSpring is brief in our part of the world, and the earliest flowers are just as short-lived. Most "spring ephemerals" grow in woodlands, appearing just before the trees leaf out, shortly after the last snow has melted. One of the earliest in our woods is Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) whose single large deeply-lobed leaf embraces the stalk of the pure white flower. As spring warms up, watch for trilliums, violets, Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Trout-lily (Erythronium americanum), and Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora). You might also see Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), whose tiny yellow flowers are actually encased in the green, purplestriped tube or spathe (the pulpit) and, therefore, are seldom seen.

Many woodland plants have relatively big leaves, allowing them to intercept more of the meagre sunlight filtering through the forest canopy for photosynthesis. Most North American woodland flowers are native, as many introduced species cannot survive in such shady conditions.


Queen Anne's LaceSummer is the season of greatest diversity and colour. It is also the time when many (non-native) "naturalized" species dominate. You may notice many of these along the service road and other disturbed areas. These species are very adaptable and can take advantage of the poor soil conditions in such places, unlike many native plants with their more specific habitat needs. You'll see big swathes of showy Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) and White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba) and large clumps of Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), which are attractive to many species of bees and butterflies and good spots to watch for other interesting insects.

Evening PrimroseMany native species also thrive in the summer. Look for Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) and Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a larval plant for Monarch butterflies.

On hot summer days, the woods are a cool retreat. Watch for native White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), a tall plant with clusters of tiny white flowers, and in sunnier openings with damper soils look for the orange Jewel-weed or Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis).

Wetland plants are particularly interesting. Our big pond supports a diverse flora. Look for Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and the aptly named Bur-reed (Sparganium americanum).

Native or not?
St. John's WortMany familiar, roadside wildflowers, such as Queen Anne's Lace, Ox-eye Daisy, and St. John's Wort, are not native, but were introduced to North America by European settlers in the last century. Escaping cultivation long ago, they naturalized to such an extent they now seem part of our native flora. Some of plants, such as Purple Loosestrife, are extremely aggressive, particularly in meadows and wetlands where they have displaced native species. Others are less destructive. At the FWG, we are removing rampant alien species while allowing those beneficial to wildlife to remain.


GoldenrodSummer's end is signalled by the appearance of the first goldenrods. Soon the garden is ablaze with the golden hues of this beautiful native flower. We have at least five species growing here, including the abundant Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod is not responsible for the hay-fever that afflicts many people at this time of year. The culprit is the rather nondescript Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) which often grows around goldenrod. You may notice round swellings on the stems of goldenrods. These are galls, home to the goldenrod gall fly larvae. Despite appearances, the plants are rarely harmed by this activity.

New England AsterCooler days and longer nights tell us that the first frost is not far off. Signs of autumn are everywhere in the plant world. Asters replace many of the earlier wildflowers and are synonymous with the season. We have at least three species of aster in the garden, the most common being the New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) with spectacular deep purple flowers and yellow centres.


New England AsterWhy would you go flower spotting in winter? Trust us, there are still some interesting things to see, particularly in the open areas. The dead stalks and seed heads rising above the snow are not only beautiful, but provide an interesting challenge to your observation skills.

You will certainly see birds feeding on the seeds of many plants. Finches and sparrows particularly relish the tiny seeds of Evening Primrose, Ragweed, goldenrods, and asters. Non-native Common Burdock (Arctium minus) also attracts seed-eaters, although this can be fatal, as birds sometimes become entangled in the burs. You can add to the beauty of your own winter garden and help out the birds as well by not cutting back your flowers until spring.

After a winter walk around the garden, you may find a variety of seeds have hitched a ride on your clothes. Congratulations! You've just had a quick lesson in seed dispersal. Some plants have developed an interesting way to send forth their seeds to multiply. Encased in velcro-like seed pods which attach themselves to any passing creature, these seeds are readily transported some distance from their parent plant to new ground. Can you think of other ways in which seeds are dispersed?

FWG Backyard GardenAs winter settles in, it sometimes seems that spring will never come again. But, take heart, beneath the snow many wildflowers are alive and well, awaiting only the longer days and warmer temperatures to burst into renewed growth.


30 September 2012

In 1992, a quick inventory recorded 68 species on our 6.5-hectare site. Now, we have over 180 species. Although many have appeared on their own (seeds dispersed by wind, by birds or other animals, brought in with leaf litter and mulch, etc.), others have been planted. The list below includes only species that have survived and spread for more than five years. It does not include plants in the Backyard Garden, or trees, shrubs, ferns and grasses, which are treated separately.

Our list is by no means complete, and because plants come and go as conditions change and we are always planting native species, you may see something not listed here. If so, please contact us: (Fletcher Wildife Garden).

NOTE: This plant list has been revised using the most recently ascribed scientific names. Previously used names are in parentheses. Many older field guides employ the old names, but guides published in the last few years use the most up-to-date names. In this list, where the genus remains the same but the species has changed, I have abbreviated the old name in parentheses; for example, Dryopteris carthusiana (D. spinulosa). When the genus changes, I have added the old name in full; for example, Elymus repens (Agropyron repens).

We thank Irving Dardick for allowing us to link to his collection of Wildflowers and other flora of Eastern Ontario and the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. Other photos are by Christine Hanrahan

Asterisks (*) mark the non-native species.

EQUISETACEAEHorsetail Family
Equisetum arvenseField HorsetailPrêle des champs

Thelypteris noveboracensisNew York Fern Dryoptéride de New York

Athyrium filix-femina Lady Fern Athyrium fourgère-femelle
Dryopteris carthusiana (D. spinulosa)Spinulose Woodfern Dryoptéride spinuleuse
Matteuccia struthiopterisOstrich Fern Matteuccie fougère-à-l'autruche
Onoclea sensibilisSensitive Fern Onoclée sensible

TYPHACEAECat-tail Family
Typha angustifolia Narrow-leaved Cat-tailQuenouille (ou Typha à feuilles étroites)

Sparganium emersum (S. chlorocarpum)Green Bur-reedRubanier à fruits verts

ALISMATACEAEWater-plantain Family
Sagittaria latifoliaBroad-leaved Arrowhead Sagittaire latifoliée

BUTOMACEAEFlowering Rush Family
Butomus umbellatusFlowering-rush* Jonc fleuri (ou Butome à ombelle)*

Elodea canadensisCanada WaterweedÉlodée du Canada
Hydrocharis morsus-ranaeFrog's-bit* Hydrocharide grenouillette

POACEAEGrass Family
Agrostis giganteaRed-top Tremme
Alopecurus pratensisMeadow Foxtail Grass*Vulpin des prés*
Bromus inermis Common Brome Grass* Brome inerme*
Dactylis glomerataOrchard Grass*Dactyle pelotonné*
Digitaria sp. Crab Grass*Digitaire*
Echinochloa crusgalli Barnyard Grass* Échinochloa pied-de-coq*
Elymus repens (Agropyron repens)Quack Grass*Chiendent*
Festuca rubraRed Fescue*Fétuque rouge*
Glyceria maximaGiant Manna Grass* Grande glycérie*
Hordeum jubatumFoxtail Barley*Orge agréable*
Leersia oryzoidesRice Cut-grass Léersie faux-riz
Lolium perennePerennial Rye grass*Ivraie vivace*
Panicum capillareWitch GrassPanic capillaire
Phalaris arundinaceaReed Canary Grass*Phalaris roseau*
Phleum pratense Timothy*Mil*
Poa compressaCanada Blue Grass*Pâturin comprimé*
Poa pratensis Kentucky Blue Grass* Pâturin des prés*
Setaria viridisGreen Foxtail* Sétaire verte*

Carex pedunculataLong-stalked Sedge, Peduncled SedgeCarex pédonculé
Carex scoparia Broom SedgeCarex à balai
Scirpus pendulus Drooping BulrushScirpe pendant

ARACEAEArum Family
Arisaema triphyllumJack-in-the-pulpit Petit prêcheur

LEMNACEAEDuckweed Family
Lemna minorSmall DuckweedLenticule mineure (ou Lentille d'eau)
Lemna trisulca Ivy DuckweedLenticule trisulquée
Spirodela polyrhizaLarge DuckweedSpirodèle polyrhize

COMMELINACEAESpiderwort Family
Commelina communisDayflower* Comméline commune*

Juncus effususCommon Rush Jonc épars
Juncus tenuisPath RushJonc ténu

Erythronium americanumTrout-lily Érythrone d'Amérique
Lilium tigrinum Tiger Lily*Lis tigré*
Maianthemum racemosum (Smilacina racemosa)False Solomon's-seal Smilacine à grapes
Maianthemum stellatum (Smilacina stellata)Starry False Solomon's-sealSmilacine étoilée
Ornithogalum umbellatumStar-of-Bethlehem* Dame d'onze heures*
Polygonatum pubescens Solomon's-seal Sceau-de-Salomon pubescent
Scilla sibiricaScillaScille de Sibérie
Trillium erectum Red Trillium Trille dressée
Trillium grandiflorumWhite Trillium Trille grandiflore
Uvularia grandifloraBellwort Uvulaire grandiflore

Epipactis helleborine Helleborine* Épipactis petite-hellébore*

Pilea pumilaClearweedPetite ortie (ou Piléa nain)
Urtica dioica ssp. gracilisSlender Stinging Nettle*Ortie élevée*

Asarum canadenseWild Ginger Gingembre sauvage

Fallopia convolvulus (Polygonum concoluvulus)Black BindweedRenouée liseron
Fallopia scandens (Polygonum scandens)Climbing False BindweedRenouée grimpante
Persicaria maculosa (Polygonum persicaria)Lady's Thumb* Renouée persicaire*
Persicaria sagittata (Polygonum sagittatum)Arrow-leaved Tear-thumbRenouée sagittée
Polygonum aviculareKnotweed*Renouée des oiseaux*
Rumex crispus Curled Dock* Rumex crépu*
Rumex salicifoliusWillow DockRumex à feuilles de saule

Atriplex prostrataOrache*Arroche hastée*
Chenopodium albumLamb's-quarters* Chénopode blanc*
Chenopodium simplexMaple-leaved GoosefootChénopode à feuilles d'érable
Chenopodium strictumLate-flowering GoosefootChénopode dressé

Amaranthus albus Tumbleweed*Amarante blanche*
Amaranthus powellii Powell's Pigweed* Amarante de Powell*
Amaranthus retroflexusRedroot Pigweed* Amarante réfléchie*

Portulaca oleracea Purslane Porcelane

Cerastium fontanumMouse-ear Chickweed*Céraiste visqueux*
Dianthus armeriaDeptford Pink* Œillet arméria*
Saponaria officinalisBouncing-bet, Soapwort* Saponaire officinale (ou Herbe à savon)*
Silene latifolia (S. alba)White Campion*Compagnon blanc*
Silene vulgaris Bladder Campion* Silène cucubale*

Actaea pachypoda Doll's Eyes Actée à gros pédicelles
Actaea rubraRed Baneberry Actée rouge
Anemone canadensisCanada Anemone Anémone du Canada
Aquilegia sp.Columbine Ancolie du Canada
Clematis virginianaWild Clematis Clématite de Virginie
Ranunculus abortivusSmall-flowered Buttercup Renoncule abortive
Ranunculus acrisCommon Buttercup* Bouton d'or*

Menispermum canadenseMoonseedMénisperme du Canada

Chelidonium majusCelandine* Chélidoine majeure*
Sanguinaria canadensisBloodroot Sanguinaire du Canada

Alliaria petiolata (A. officinalis)Garlic Mustard* Alliaire officinale*
Barbarea vulgarisYellow-rocket* Barbarée vulgaire*
Berteroa incanaHoary-alyssum* Alysson blanc*
Capsella bursa-pastorisShepherd's-purse* Bourse-à-pasteur*
Erysimum cheiranthoidesWormseed Mustard* Vélar giroflée*
Hesperis matronalisDame's Rocket* Julienne des dames*
Iberis sempirvirensCandytuft*Ibéris toujours vert*
Lepidium densiflorum Pepper-grass*Lépidie densiflore*
Sinapis arvensis (Brassica kaber)Charlock, Wild Mustard* Moutarde sauvage*
Sisymbrium officinaleHedge Mustard*Sisymbre officinal*
Thlaspi arvenseField Penny-cress* Tabouret des champs*

Mitella diphylla Mitrewort Mitrelle à deux feuilles
Tiarella cordifoliaFoamflower Tiarelle cordifoliée

Agrimonia gryposepalaHooked Agrimony Aigremoine à sépales crochus
Filipendula rubraQueen of the Prairie Filipendule reine des prairies
Fragaria virginianaCommon Strawberry Fraisier de Virginie
Geum aleppicum Yellow Avens Benoîte d'Alep
Potentilla argenteaSilvery Cinquefoil* Potentille argentée*
Potentilla recta Rough-fruited Cinquefoil* Potentille dressée*
Waldsteinia fragarioidesBarren-ground Strawberry Waldsteinie faux-fraisier

Lathyrus sylvestrisEverlasting Pea, Sweet pea* Gesse des bois*
Lotus corniculatusBird's-foot Trefoil* Lotier corniculé*
Lupinus sp. Lupine* Lupin*
Medicago lupulinaBlack Medick* Luzerne lupuline*
Melilotus alba White Sweet-clover* Trèfle d'odeur*
Melilotus officinalisYellow Sweet-clover* Trèfle d'odeur jaune*
Trifolium aureum (T. agrarium)Hop Clover* Trèfle jaune*
Trifolium hybridumAlsike Clover* Trèfle hybride*
Trifolium pratenseRed Clover* Trèfle rouge*
Trifolium repens White Clover* Trèfle blanc*
Vicia cracca Cow Vetch* Vesce jargeau*
Vicia tetraspermaSlender Vetch*Vesce à quatre graines*

GERANIACEAEGeranium Family
Geranium robertianumHerb Robert* Herbe à Robert*

OXALIDACEAEWood-sorrel Family
Oxalis strictaWood Sorrel* Oxalide dressée

Acalypha virginica (A. rhomboides)Three-seeded Mercury

BALSAMINACEAETouch-me-not Family
Impatiens capensisSpotted Touch-me-not, Jewel-weed Impatiente du cap

VITACEAEGrape Family
Parthenocissus vitaceaVirginia Creeper Vigne vierge
Vitis riparia River Grape, Wild Grape Vigne des rivages

MALVACEAEMallow Family
Malva moschata Musk Mallow* Mauve musquée*
Malva sylvestris High Mallow* Mauve des bois*

HYPERICACEAESt. John's-wort Family
Hypericum perforatumCommon St. John's-wort* Millepertuis commun*

VIOLACEAEViolet Family
Viola blandaSweet White Violet Violette agréable
Viola odorata Sweet Violet* Violette odorante*
Viola pubescens Downy Yellow Violet Violette pubescente

LYTHRACEAELoosestrife Family
Decodon verticillatusWater-willow Décodon verticillé
Lythrum salicariaPurple Loosestrife* Salicaire pourpre*

ONAGRACEAEEvening-primrose Family
Circaea alpinaSmaller Enchanter's-nightshade Circée alpine
Circaea lutetiana ssp. canadensis (C. quadrisulcata)Enchanter's-nightshade
Epilobium ciliatum (E. glandulosum)Willow-herb Épilobe glanduleux
Oenothera biennisCommon Evening-primrose Onagre de Victorin
Oenothera parviflorumSmall-flowered Evening Primrose Onagre parviflore

ARALIACEAEGinseng Family
Aralia nudicaulisSarsaparilla Salsepareille

APIACEAECarrot Family
Daucus carota Queen Anne's Lace, Wild Carrot* Carotte sauvage*
Osmorhiza claytoniiSweet Cicely Osmorhize de Clayton
Pastinaca sativa Wild Parsnip* Panais cultivé*

PRIMULACEAEPrimrose Family
Lysimachia punctataGarden Loosestrife* Lysimaque ponctuée*

Apocynum androsaemifoliumSpreading Dogbane Apocyn à feuilles d'Androsème
Vinca minorPeriwinkle*Pervenche mineure*

Asclepias syriacaCommon Milkweed Asclépiade commune
Cynanchum rossicumPale Swallow-wort, Dog-strangling Vine* Cynanche pâle*

CONVOLVULACEAEMorning-glory Family
Convolvulus arvensisSmall Bindweed* Liseron des champs*

Cynoglossum officinaleHound's Tongue* Cynoglosse officinal*
Echium vulgare Viper's Bugloss* Vipérine vulgaire*
Hackelia virginianaVirginia Stickseed Hackélia de Virginie
Lithospermum officinaleGromwell* Grémil officinal*
Symphytum officinaleComfrey* Consoude officinale*

Verbena hastata Blue Vervain Verveine hastée

Galeopsis tetrahitHemp Nettle* Galéopside à tige carrée*
Glechoma hederaceaGround-ivy* Lierre terrestre*
Leonurus cardiacaMotherwort* Agripaume cardiaque*
Mentha spicata Spearmint* Menthe poivrée*
Mentha sp. Mint species Menthe
Nepeta cataria Catnip* Herbe à chats*
Origanum vulgareWild Marjoram* Origan vulgaire*
Physostegia virginianaObedient Plant Physostégie de Virginie
Prunella vulgarisHeal-all, Self-heal* Prunelle vulgaire*

SOLANACEAENightshade Family
Physalis heterophyllaClammy Ground-cherry Coqueret hétérophylle
Solanum dulcamaraDeadly Nightshade* Morelle douce-amère*
Solanum ptycanthum (Solanum americanum)Black Nightshade Morelle d'Amérique

Chelone glabra Turtlehead Galane glabre
Linaria vulgaris Toadflax, Butter-and-eggs* Linaire vulgaire*
Penstemon digitalisWhite Beard-tonguePenstémon blanc
Penstemon hirsutusHairy Beard-tongue Penstémon hirsute
Scrophularia lanceolataFigwort Scrofulaire lancéolée
Verbascum thapsusMullein* Molène vulgaire*
Veronica longifoliaLong-leaved Speedwell* Véronique à longues feuilles*

Plantago major Common Plantain* Plantain majeur*

RUBIACEAEBedstraw Family
Galium mollugo White Bedstraw* Gaillet molugine*

Echinocystis lobataWild Cucumber Concombre sauvage

CAMPANULACEAEBellflower Family
Campanula rapunculoidesCreeping Bellflower* Campanule fausse-raiponce*

Achillea millefoliumYarrow Achillée millefeuille
Ageratina altissima (Eupatorium rugosum)White Snakeroot Eupatorium rugueuse
Ambrosia artemisiifoliaRagweed Petite herbe à poux
Anaphalis margaritaceaPearly-everlasting Immortelle
Arctium minusBurdock* Petite bardane*
Artemisia vulgarisMugwort* Armoise vulgaire*
Bidens cernua Nodding Beggartick Bident penché
Bidens frondosus Beggarticks Bident feuillu
Centaurea jacea Brown Knapweed* Centaurée jacée*
Cichorium intybusChickory* Chicorée sauvage*
Cirsium arvense Canada Thistle* Chardon des champs*
Cirsium vulgare Bull Thistle* Chardon vulgaire*
Conyza canadensisHorseweed Vergerette du Canada
Echinacea purpureaPurple Coneflower Échinacée pourpre
Erigeron annuus Daisy Fleabane Érigéron annuel
Erigeron philadelphicusPhiladelphia Fleabane Érigéron de Philadelphie
Eupatorium maculatumJoe-pye WeedÉrigéron de Philadelphie
Eurybia macrophylla (Aster macrophyllus)Big-leaf Aster Aster à grandes feuilles
Euthamia graminifolia (Solidago graminifolia)Grass-leaved Goldenrod Verge d'or graminifoliée
Galinsoga quadriradiataGalinsoga*Galinsoga cilié*
Helianthus grossesseratusSaw-toothed Sunflower* Hélianthe de grande taille*
Helianthus × laetiflorus?Beautiful Sunflower, Showy Sunflower* Hélianthe à belles feuilles*
Helianthus sp.Sunflower sp. Hélianthe sp.
Hieracium aurantiacumOrange Hawkweed* Épervière orangée*
Lactuca canadensisCanada Lettuce Laitue du Canada
Lactuca scariola Prickly Lettuce Laitue scariole
Leucanthemum vulgareOx-eye Daisy* Marguerite*
Matricaria discoidea (M. matricarioides)Pineapple Weed* Matricaire odorante*
Rudbeckia hirta Brown-eyed Susan (*?)Rudbeckie hérissée (*?)
Solidago sp. Goldenrod sp. Verge d'or sp.
Solidago altissimaTall Goldenrod Verge d'or très élevée
Solidago canadensisCanada Goldenrod Verge d'or du Canada
Solidago flexicaulisZig-zag Goldenrod Verge d'or à tige zigzaguante
Solidago nemoralis Gray Goldenrod Verge d'or des bois
Solidago rugosa Rough Goldenrod Verge d'or rugueuse
Sonchus arvensis Sow-thistle* Laiteron des champs*
Sonchus asper Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle* Laiteron épineux*
Sonchus oleraceusCommon Sow-thistle* Laiteron potager*
Symphyotrichum ciliatum (Aster ciliolatus) Ciliolate Aster Aster ciliolé
Symphyotrichum cordifolium (Aster cordifolius) Heart-leaved Aster Aster à feuilles cordées
Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (Aster lanceolatus) Panicled Aster Aster lancéolé
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (Aster novae-angliae)New England Aster Aster de la Nouvelle-Angleterre
Tanacetum vulgareTansy* Tanaisie vulgaire*
Taraxacum officinaleDandelion* Pissenlit*
Tragopogon dubiusGoat's-beard* Salsifis majeur*


If you'd like more information about wildflowers in general, here are a couple of suggestions for further reading:

  • Michael Runtz. Beauty and the Beasts: The Hidden World of Wildflowers. Stoddart, 1994.
  • Brenda Chambers, et al. Forest Plants of Central Ontario. Lone Pine Publishing, 1996.

This page was revised on 22 December 2012
© Fletcher Wildlife Garden
Text and photos: Christine Hanrahan
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