The Flora of Muskoka

[MUSKOKA FLORA] [Species] [Common Names] [Authorities] [Herbaria] [Townships] [SEARCH]

A Prospectus - by J. P. Goltz and R. E. Whiting

Although botanists have been collecting and studying the plants of the District of Muskoka for over l00 years, a comprehensive publication on the flora of Muskoka has never been produced. The authors have devoted many years to the study of vascular plants in the District of Muskoka, with a view to collecting data and preparing an annotated list of Muskoka plants. This work is well underway. The publication on the Muskoka flora will represent our current state of knowledge regarding the species of vascular plants known to occur in the District.

This annotated list of the vascular plants of Muskoka will focus on what species and hybrids occur in Muskoka, where each taxon can be found, how abundant each taxon is, and what factors affect or account for the distribution of each taxon in the District. The publication will be illustrated with distribution maps, and will contain colour photographs of major plant habitats and of a selection of the plant species that occur in Muskoka. Although the work will not be a manual for plant identification per se, it will direct the reader to other publications that may be useful in this regard, and will assist persons in accurately identifying plants by providing information on what species are likely to occur in different habitats and locations.

It is anticipated that The Flora of Muskoka will be useful to scientists (including taxonomists and plant geographers), amateur botanists and other naturalists, environmental consultants, local schools, libraries, environmentalists, gardeners, artists (including nature photographers), developers, government agencies, regional planners, local and seasonal residents, vacationers and anyone with an interest in nature. A reference work of this nature could serve as an invaluable tool for conservation efforts and environmental protection, as well as in fostering a sense of pride and appreciation for our native plants. Further, the publication will help to serve as a historical reference, documenting the plant species found in Muskoka today, and those that occurred there in the past. The flora is constantly changing and will likely continue to do so. It is also hoped that this work will help to inspire others to learn more about our natural heritage, and to continue where we leave off -- by discovering additional species of plants and more accurately determining the distribution and abundance of plant species in Muskoka.

Mr. R. Emerson Whiting, recently deceased, was a renowned amateur botanist and naturalist who spent a considerable amount of time botanizing and canoeing in Muskoka during the past 50 years, often with his wife Dorothy, and with his many naturalist friends. Em was considered to be the foremost authority on the plants of Muskoka, and one of the leading experts on the native orchids of Canada, and was always willing to share his knowledge and time with others with similar interests. Dr. James P. Goltz grew up at Bala, where he began to pursue naturalist hobbies at a young age. Jim has been studying the plants of Muskoka for over 20 years, with inspiration and capable guidance from Em and Dr. Donald M. Britton of the University of Guelph.

The proposed table of contents for The Flora of Muskoka is as follows:

Details Pertaining to the Publication

Preface: The preface will include details pertaining to the scope of the publication, the purpose of the book, and a brief account of how the authors became involved in work on the Muskoka flora.

Introduction: This will begin with information on the District of Muskoka, including how it got its name, where it is located, and its geographic delimitations. Since the occurrence of plants in Muskoka is dependent upon the occurrence of suitable habitat, there will be a discussion on the factors that help to determine habitat, including the substrate (bedrock, pH, soils, effects of glaciation), climate (temperature, precipitation, wind), topography (altitude, landforms), light, moisture, waterways, companion plants (viz. species that occur together), human factors (e.g. roads, railroads, logging, dams, settlement, agriculture, de-icing salt, transplantation), and other miscellaneous factors (e.g. natural disturbances such as erosion, fire, flooding, etc.). The major plant habitats will be discussed and illustrated with colour photographs, and information will be provided on assemblages of species known to occur in each habitat. There will be a discussion on the geographic affinities of various plants, including species that are typical of the Atlantic coastal plain, western prairies, and northern and southern localities. There will be a historical overview of botanical collection and exploration in Muskoka. The introduction will conclude with information on some of the more interesting places to botanize in Muskoka, such as tension zones (where different habitats come together), as well as known sites of botanical significance (e.g. Sparrow Lake, Severn River Corridor, Big East River, Georgian Bay Islands, Southwood oak barrens, etc.). In their pursuit of Muskoka plants, readers will be encouraged to use sound conservation practices which minimize environmental damage, and to respect private property.

To assist the readers in the identification of plants, a list of identification references will be provided. this list will include references that vary in complexity, since some readers may be beginning to study plants or may be doing it as a casual hobby, while others may have higher levels of expertise, experience and motivation. The reference list will include popular field guides (e.g. Peterson and McKenny's Field Guide to Wildflowers, and Newcomb's Wildflower Guide), taxonomic manuals (e.g. Gleason's New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora, and Voss' Michigan Flora), and specialty references (e.g. Hosie's Native Trees of Canada, Dore and McNeill's Grasses of Ontario, Clemants' Juncaceae (Rush Family) of New York State, and Cody and Britton's Ferns and Fern Allies of Canada). Readers will also be provided with a list of relevant journal articles that review difficult groups of plants. A brief mention will be made of the pitfalls of field guides and references (e.g. books may be out of date in nomenclature, common names vary with location, not all species appear in all works, identifying features may not be accurate, keys may not work, etc.).

Methods: This section will discuss how the Muskoka list was generated and how our research was conducted, in terms of field work, herbarium research, literature review, and consultation with other hotanists and naturalists. All taxa on the official Muskoka list have been documented by the existence of at least one herbarium specimen or diagnostic photograph that has been seen by the authors and/or by persons considered to be experts on the taxa. The readers will be cautioned that the current available information on the status and distribution of Muskoka plants may be somewhat misleading, especially since rare or unusual species are more often collected than common species, and since plants are recorded or collected only in areas which have been visited by botanists. Further, the earlier collectors recorded their collection sites according to the nearest town or permanent landmark, even though such places may have been a considerable distance away, and even today many people loosely refer to areas of Parry Sound or Simcoe County as being part of "Muskoka".

Annotated List of the Vascular Plants of the District of Muskoka: (Please see species pages) The plant families will be listed in taxonomic order, and within each family the genera, species and hybrids will be listed by their Latin names in alphabetical order. For the most part, the Latin nomenclature will follow Morton and Venn's A Checklist of the Flora of Ontario Vascular Plant; (1990), unless more up-to-date taxonomic references are available (e.g. Flora of North America). For the species which have an English or common name, this will be recorded. For each species, there will be a description of the habitat, and an assessment of the relative abundance in Muskoka. Species which are nationally or provincially rare will be identified. Range maps will be provided for all species except for those escaped from or persisting after cultivation. The written descriptions may include additional information on the specific locations of certain species within Muskoka, companion plants, unusual colour forms or subspecies, historical information on collections, or special notes of interest. The descriptions may also include reference to relevant literature on the taxa.

Excluded Taxa: These are taxa for which there are sight records or literature reports, but to our knowledge the occurrence of these taxa has not been substantiated by a diagnostic photograph or herbarium specimen.

Potential Additions to the Muskoka Flora: This section is intended to inspire the reader to discover new taxa of vascular plants in Muskoka, and to communicate to appropriate persons the discoveries of species not recorded in this publication. The list of "most-wanted" taxa has been generated by extrapolation and consists of taxa known to occur in nearby areas, or taxa for which suitable habitat is known to be present in Muskoka.

Threats to the Muskoka Flora and the Need for Conservation: Major threats to the Muskoka flora include habitat destruction, pollution and overcollecting. Readers will be encouraged to assist in the preservation of habitat, to respect the species that share our planet, to avoid or minimize any impact on fragile habitats (e.g. slopes, bogs, shores) and to avoid overcollecting.

Literature Cited: A list of the literature references and publications upon which this work was based will be provided.

Index to Common and Scientific Names: All taxa will be indexed in alphabetical order according to their common and scientific names. These will appear together in the same index.

Muskoka Flora - Index :The Muskoka Checklist : Prospectus

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Last revision: 10 July 1996

Copyright © J. P. Goltz 1994. All rights reserved.