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Old Growth Forests and Cranberries

As you continue your walk and before you cross the iron bridge over the Holland

River look to your left and you will see a High Bush Cranberry, (Viburnum trilobum) an Ontario native shrub. It produces flat top clusters of white flowers in early spring that is a source of pollen and nectar for our pollinators. The green/red berries that are on the shrub now will turn red in the fall as will the leaves. A welcome addition to any garden or forest. The berries themselves are a source of food for local and migrating birds.

Your walk towards the 2nd concession and Rogers Reservoir will now take you through an old growth forest where mosses and ferns abound. Did you know that mosses are an important part of plant communities? They help regulate the soil’s temperature and moisture; they can provide a source of nitrogen. They also increase water storage and provide air spaces necessary for plant growth. In the past, mosses have been used for packing food, and they were also used to help insulate houses. Some types of mosses are still being used as fuel today. As well as mosses in this area you will see ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Ferns provide a microhabitat as well as shelter and shade to small animals. Ferns also provide a source of food for animals as well as humans. Think of the fiddle heads available in spring. Ferns have a ceremonial and spiritual role for indigenous peoples.

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