Finding a place in the sun for the Pitcher’s Thistle

In today’s post, former Chief Park Naturalist Angela Gunn reflects on the at-risk Pitcher’s Thistle.

Almost 20 years have passed since we mindfully took notice of the Pitcher’s Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) and added it to our provincial species-at-risk list.

Standing up to a metre tall, the Pitcher’s Thistle casts its slender silvery profile against dune and shoreline backdrops.

It humbly asks for its own space to grow in nutrient poor, unstable sands.

What does this plant offer me?

What will the world lose if this species does not linger into the future?

Who would love such a scraggly beast of a plant?

Continue reading Finding a place in the sun for the Pitcher’s Thistle

Shortcuts? More like shore cuts!

Today’s post comes from Mikhaila Lafleur-Weidhaas, a park warden at Pancake Bay Provincial Park.

Two beach trails diverged at a dune, one well-travelled and clear — the other a shortcut. Do you take “the road most travelled?”

The coastal shores of Lake Superior, with its sand beaches and Caribbean blue water, have been a popular attraction to thousands, from nomadic voyagers to people looking for paradise close to home.

However, as people run to Ontario’s beaches looking for a staycation, more pressure is being placed on our sandy shores.

This increased pressure can cause a decline of these dynamic and rare freshwater coastal dune ecosystems.

Continue reading Shortcuts? More like shore cuts!

Dynamic dunes at Pinery

Today’s post comes from Alistair MacKenzie, our Supervisor of Natural Heritage Education and Resource Management at Pinery Provincial Park.

In a province dominated by the rock of the Canadian Shield, sand is rare. If we combined all of Ontario’s coastal sand dunes together, they would only make up less than 0.5% of our province’s land.

We can thank a simple fact of nature for the creation of Pinery Provincial Park and its rare dunes: namely, that differences in temperature between the air over Lake Huron and the adjacent landmass create an on-shore breeze.

Continue reading Dynamic dunes at Pinery