Northern Ontario Plant Database
Northern Ontario Vegetation Type (V-type) Summaries
The summaries provided here are based on the vegetation types described in the Central (C-V types), Northeastern (NE-V types), and Northwestern (NW-V types) Ontario forest ecosystem classification (FEC) manuals (C: Chambers et al. 1997, NE: Taylor et al. 2000, NW: Sim et al.). They are included in the NOPD website to assist with identification of these forest species and are not intended to replace the use of the individual FEC manuals.
The Central Ontario FEC describes vegetation types from Hills' Site Regions 4E and 5E (Hills 1959), which covers the area from just south of Wawa east to the Quebec border and south along the northeast shore of Georgian Bay, extending east to Armprior. St. Joseph's and Manitoulin Islands are also included in this region. The Northeastern Ontario FEC covers Hills' Site Region 3E (Hills 1959), including the area above the Central Ontario FEC, extending north to above Hearst and Kapuskasing, west to Marathon, and east to the Quebec border. The Northwestern Ontario FEC covers Hills' Site Regions 2W, 3W, 4W, 3S, 4S, and 5S (Hills 1959), which includes the regions west of areas covered in the Northeastern FEC over to the Manitoba border and north to above the Albany River.
Each FEC manual has a different way of presenting material and V-types between regions are not the same, so we have added the prefixes of C, NE, and NW to denote the region of each vegetation type. In the Northeast FEC, species of several genera, such as Viola and Carex are not identified. The Central and Northwestern FECs provide more species detail, but do not list cover values for each species. Because of the inconsistency in information between regions, a new Ecosystem Classification for Ontario forests is being developed through a partnership between Great Lakes Forestry Centre and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. It will be several years before this new classification is completed, but when available, it will replace each of the Ontario FECs.
For the Northeastern Ontario region, the percentage of cover for the dominant and secondary species is provided to give the reader a more accurate picture of each vegetation type than can be envisioned from a simple list of species. Additional species from the Species Percentage Cover by Vegetation Type Tables (NE-FEC, pg. D34) have been added to the species list found on the V-type description pages.
In the Northwestern and Central Ontario FEC manuals, no tables are presented that provide the species cover values. The Northwestern Ontario FEC includes secondary species within square brackets. The Central Ontario FEC lists species in order of abundance, but does not provide cover values and does not distinguish between dominant and secondary species below the tree layer.
Soils and ecosite types known to occur in association with each vegetation type are provided after each V-type summary, followed by a list of the species recorded from that vegetation type. Species are listed in order of abundance (if known). To aid in identification, scientific names are linked to descriptions with photos. For further details on species composition, refer to the appropriate FEC manual. The species lists are given in the following format:
Trees: overstorey species in the canopy layer and regeneration species in the understorey shrub layer. Sub canopy species are listed only in the Central Ontario FEC.
We have chosen to list dwarf shrubs (e.g., dwarf raspberry, creeping snowberry) and perennial herbs with underground rhizomes (e.g. bunchberry) in the "Dwarf Shrubs and Herbs" heading, since these species occur in the herb layer in the forest, not the shrub layer, which is where they are included in the NE-FEC manual. Forbs (herbs other than graminoid species) and graminoids (grasses, sedges, and rushes) are listed separately under the "Dwarf Shrubs and Herbs" heading. Pteridophytes (ferns, clubmosses, and horsetails) are listed separately under the heading "Ferns and Fern Allies," but these should be included in the herb layer when describing a forest type.
A set of 5 species, which are characteristic of the boreal forest, are listed as a group in the vegetation type descriptions because they occur together so consistently. These include bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), wild lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum canadense), bluebead lily (Clintonia borealis) starflower (Trientalis borealis), and twinflower (Linnaea borealis). Where this group of plants is lacking is often more telling than where they do occur. These species are consistently absent from forest types NE-V26 through NE-V28, the wet, black spruce stand types transitional to bog, though bunchberry may be found on drier portions of the bog hummocks. They are also mostly absent from the drier, jack pine stands (NE-V21, NE-V22), except for twinflower, which is recorded from NE-V21. Twinflower and starflower are not recorded from a few other forest types.
Chambers, B.A., B.J. Naylor, J. Nieppola, B. Merchant, P. Uhlig. 1997. Field guide to forest ecosystems of Central Ontario. SCSS Field Guide FG-01. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Ontario, Canada.
Hills, G.A. 1959. A ready reference to the description of the land of Ontario and its productivity. Ontario Department of Lands and Forests. Division of Research, Maple, Ontario.
Taylor, K.C., R.W. Arnup, B.G Merchant, W.J. Parton, J. Nieppola. 2000. A field guide to forest ecosystems of Northeastern Ontario, 2nd edition. NEST Field Guide FG-001. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Ontario, Canada.
Sims, R.A., W.D. Towill, K.A. Baldwin, and G.M. Wickware. 1997. Field guide to the forest ecosystem classification for Northwestern Ontario. Forestry Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Thunder Bay, Ontario.