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Plants of the Limestone Barrens A Presentation by John Maunder Curator Emeritus of Natural History The Rooms Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Presentation on theme: "Plants of the Limestone Barrens A Presentation by John Maunder Curator Emeritus of Natural History The Rooms Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador."— Presentation transcript:

1 Plants of the Limestone Barrens A Presentation by John Maunder Curator Emeritus of Natural History The Rooms Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador The Limestone Barrens Habitat Stewardship Program Conservation and Sustainable Ecotourism Conference Plum Point, Newfoundland October 12-13, 2006

2 Plants? … What plants? … Cape Norman

3 At first glance, there’s almost nothing there! Burnt Cape [photo: Pat Montegue]

4 But, when you begin to look more closely … Watt’s Point

5 … usually MUCH more closely…. Watt’s Point

6 You’ll see an amazing garden of botanical treasures! Flowers Cove

7 Some quite spectacular … Redtipped Lousewort - Pedicularis flammea – Big Brook

8 Others pretty dull … Glacier Sedge – Carex glacialis – Boat Harbour

9 But, what’s all the fuss about? Alpine Ragwort - Packera pauciflora – L’Anse aux Meadows

10 What makes these plants so special? Dwarf Hawk’s Beard – Crepis nana – Burnt Cape

11 Aren’t they just like plants from other places?

12 Well … some are … Common Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale – Raleigh

13 But most aren’t …It’s all a bit complicated Northern Anemone - Anemone parviflora – Burnt Cape

14 Our limestone barrens species fall into about 5 special categories … … grouped by their general distribution near Eddies Cove West

15 1. Newfoundland Endemic “Limestone-Loving” Species Species found only in Newfoundland, in the whole world!

16 Barrens Willow – Salix jejuna – Cape Norman

17 Fernald’s Braya – Braya fernaldii – Big Brook and Watt’s Point

18 Long’s Braya – Braya longii Sandy Cove and Yankee Point

19 Burnt Cape “Burnt Cape Cinquefoil” - Potentilla usticapensis … [or Potentilla pulchella var. pulchella] … There are varying taxonomic interpretations … so its endemic status is uncertain … and, MAYBE?

20 2. Gulf of St. Lawrence Endemic “Limestone-Loving” Species Species found only in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region (which includes the Newfoundland west coast and Strait of Belle Isle), in the whole world!

21 St. Lawrence Primrose – Primula laurentiana – Raleigh

22 Newfoundland Pussytoes – Antennaria eucosma Cape St. George

23 Longleaf Arnica – Arnica lonchophylla – Humber Gorge

24 3. Disjunct “Limestone-Loving” Species Species found both in some far-away place, AND in our area, with a BIG GAP in between.

25 Dwarf Hawk’s Beard – Crepis nana – Burnt Cape …. Disjunct to N tip of Labrador, and arctic and western North America

26 Newfoundland Orchid – Pseudorchis albida subsp. straminea Burnt Cape - Disjunct to Greenland and one locality in Hudson Bay

27 Woolly Arnica – Arnica angustifolia subsp. tomentosa – Point Riche Peninsula … Disjunct to mountains of northwestern North America [photo: Rene Charest]

28 Pendantpod Oxytrope - Oxytropis deflexa var. foliosa – disjunct [from S Labrador] to N tip of Labrador, Gaspe, Hudson Bay, and low arctic and western North America

29 Bodin’s Milkvetch – Astragalus bodinii – Cook’s Harbour … disjunct to western North America

30 4. More Widespread “Limestone-Loving” Species

31 Calypso Orchid - Calypso bulbosa var. americana – Burnt Cape

32 Yellow Ladyslipper – Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens – Port au Choix

33 Small Roundleaf Orchis - Amerorchis rotundifolia – Burnt Cape

34 Frog Orchid – Dactylorhiza viridis Killdevil Mountain [photo: M. Anions] and Burnt Cape

35 Purple Mountain Saxifrage – Saxifraga oppositifolia – Table Mountain

36 Tufted Saxifrage - Saxifraga cespitosa – Old Port au Choix

37 Island Gentian – Gentianopsis nesophila – St. John Bay

38 Alpine Chickweed – Cerastium alpinum subsp. lanatum – Lower Cove

39 White Mountain Avens – Dryas integrifolia Sandy Cove [photo: N. Djan-Chekar] and Flowers Cove [photo: Pat Montague]

40 Yellow Mountain Saxifrage – Saxifraga aizoides – Eddies Cove West

41 Alpine Bearberry - Arctous alpina – L’Anse-au-Loup

42 Newfoundland Oxytrope – Oxytropis campestris var. minor – Mount Parent, P.Q.

43 Elegant Milkvetch - Astragalus eucosmus – L’Anse aux Meadows

44 Hairy Willow - Salix vestita – Port au Choix

45 5. Widespread Species which are not “Limestone Loving” They’ll grow almost anywhere!

46 Larch – Larix laricina – Big Brook

47 White Spruce – Picea glauca – Table Head [photo: Pat Montague]

48 Living on the limestone barrens can be quite a challenge!

49 How do the plants manage it? Trailing Juniper - Juniperus horizontalis – Port au Choix [photo: Pat Montague]

50 What conditions do they have to overcome? Alpine Pussytoes – Antennaria alpina subsp. canescens – Watt’s Point

51 Many, it seems!

52 It is really useful to understand what makes barrens of ANY type, “barrens”. Cape Norman

53 The first challenge is DRYNESS … even in areas that receive a lot of moisture Burnt Cape [photo: Pat Montague]

54 Wind is usually the critical factor … especially in winter. Eddies Cove It’s not hard to tell how deep the sheltering snow gets in this area!

55 Even in summer, it helps to have a low profile to stay out of the drying wind, and within the thin, sun-warmed, surface air layer Trailing Juniper – Juniperus horizontalis – Port au Choix [photo: Pat Montegue]

56 Tight cushion architecture can conserve a core of dampness within the cushion Dwarf Hawk’s Beard – Crepis nana – Burnt Cape

57 Some plants find other ways to stay out of the wind Flowers Cove, “White Rocks”

58 Laurentian Fragile Fern – Cystopteris laurentiana – Flowers Cove “White Rocks”

59 Other plants just grow smaller in exposed areas [while usually preserving flower size!] Greenland Primrose – Primula egaliksensis – Cook’s Harbour and Boat Harbour

60 Hair creates a layer of dead air against the plant surface to help slow moisture loss when the plant’s pores are open Rand’s Eyebright - Euphrasia randii – Cape St. Francis

61 Waxy and leathery surfaces help slow water loss from the surface Netvein Willow – Salix reticulata – Lower Cove

62 Narrow leaves with less leaf surface area lose less water Reddish Sandwort - Minuartia rubella – Port Saunders

63 The second challenge of the barrens is COLD.

64 However, cold is only partly a winter concern. For most arctic and alpine plants, once the temperature has dropped below a certain point, cold is just cold

65 W of Red Bay, Labrador, July 12, 2001 The main thing affected by cold is the total length of the growing season …

66 This photo was taken July 8 – and the willows are still just in early bud! L’Anse-Amour, Labrador

67 Tight cushion architecture allows for a layer of “dead air”, within the cushion, that can warm up and stay warm all day Moss Campion – Silene acaulis – Burnt Cape

68 Cold also leads to frost disturbance …. Watt’s Point

69 … seen most dramatically in patterned ground Burnt Cape [photo: Pat Montague

70 tap roots anchor plants deeply into the seasonally- disturbed frost-heaved soils This rare species, the Cutleaf Fleabane, grows in Humber Gorge Daubenmire (1941)

71 Some roots are contractile... each time a plant is heaved upward by frost, the root of the affected plant shortens to pull the plant back down into the soil, where it belongs. Long’s Braya – Braya longii – Yankee Point

72 The third challenge of the barrens is obtaining sufficient NUTRIENTS. Barrens usually occur on thin, poor soils. Boat Harbour

73 The THINNESS of the soil is largely the result of ice-age glacial scouring … Glacial Striae – Hawkes Bay

74 … and subsequent wind and water erosion. Cape Norman

75 The POORNESS of the soil is usually the result of its basic geology, or of its history of poor organic accumulation in places where vegetation has long been sparse. Cape Norman

76 But even here, plants manage to grow … Cape Norman

77 Barrens Willow - Salix jejuna - Cape Norman

78 In general, precipitation tends to run off quickly … or just drain away, downwards, through the substrate … carrying unconsolidated nutrients with it. Port au Choix

79 Even so, some species, like this buttercup, seem to need such changing conditions! Oval-leaf Spearwort – Ranunculus flammula var. ovalis – Port au Choix

80 As you have already seen, plants of the barrens have all kinds of survival tricks Arctic Bladderpod - Lesquerella arctica – Burnt Cape

81 LONG ROOT SYSTEMS are critical in accessing scarce moisture and nutrients from a very wide area of soil Moss Campion – Silene acaulis Daubenmire (1941)

82 EVERGREEN LEAVES conserve hard-won and costly resources that would otherwise be lost, and have to be regenerated every year … Hollyfern - Polystichum lonchitis – Burnt Cape

83 ….and, as long as evergreen plants stays relatively green throughout the year, photosynthesis can take place, on warm days, in any season, effectively lengthening the plant’s growing season Trailing Juniper – Juniperus horizontalis – Port au Choix

84 In the limestone barrens, the chemistry of calcium adds to the challenge This saxifrage secretes excess lime from the edges of its leaves Encrusted Saxifrage - Saxifraga paniculata – Burnt Cape

85 A major advantage of living on the barrens – is a lack of competition! Dwarf Hawk’s Beard – Crepis nana – Burnt Cape

86 Many barrens species, such as Long’s Braya, actually thrive in disturbed areas where nothing else tends to grow Yankee Point

87 But, in general, the plants of the barrens live on a razor’s edge Burnt Cape

88 … with the rarer ones just making it … Alpine Milkvetch – Astragalus alpinus var. alpinus – Burnt Cape

89 … and some others doing much better Balsam Ragwort – Packera paupercula var. balsamitae – Indian River

90 … But, we really don’t know what’s ahead for them Peter Scott

91 We might guess … but we really don’t know. … will climate change help Long’s Braya … but hinder Fernald’s Braya? … or vice-versa? … or neither!

92 Will humans and nature eventually find ways happily co-exist? It would be nice!

93 One thing is for sure … Even as tourists arrive in increasing numbers … Cape Norman

94 … and humans in general continue to expand their influence Heavy equipment re-arranging the Romaines River floodplain, August 1, 2006 !

95 We still have much to learn Boat Harbour

96 Crab Spider on Yellow Lady Slipper – Burnt Cape … End … any many discoveries to make!

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