Flora of the Lake Erie Island region

Asclepias incarnata L. - swamp milkweed

Asclepias incarnata L. – Swamp Milkweed

The Lake Erie Islands have a distinct flora with their rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, gravelly shores, unique forests, and wetlands. Attached is a list of the some of these plant species by habitat 

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For a more complete list, see the publication FLora of the Erie Islands by Ronald L. Stuckey and ThomasDuncan sold by LuLu Press(www.lulupress.com) or available at the Lake Erie Island Nature and Wildlife Center.

Our forests on the Bass Island are strongly influenced by the dolomite just below the surface. Common hackberry, chinquapin oak, and blue ash are found growing mixed with sugar maple and American basswood on drier rocky sites.  Our upland forest’s composition is closer to those found on morainal ridges to the north than those on the adjacent mainland. Eastern red cedar and ninebark grows on the cliffs as well as hoptree or wafer ash(Citrus family) that is food for the giant swallowtail caterpillar .As you walk in our wetter forests, you will find silver maple, box elder, eastern cottonwood, swamp white oak, bur oak, elm, and small green ash. Our larger green ash trees have succumbed to the introduced emerald ash borer and the blue ash show damage from the insect. .

Take a walk in the spring woods and  enjoy calcium loving spring wildflowers like Dutchman’s Breeches and Appendaged Waterleaf. With the Put-in-Bay dolomite just below the surface, we get a unique assemblage of blooms. Wild Hyacinths flower in profusion here at the northern edge of their range. Purple Cress, Jack in the Pulpit, and Blue Phlox all bloom in the spring taking advantage of the sun before the trees fully leaf out. Attached here is a list of some of our more common spring wildflowers as well as photos

Our wetlands have a wide variety of floating leaf plants like water lotus, fragrant water lily, and spadderdock underlain with submerged plants like coontail, mllfoil, and a variety of pondweeds. Island ponds are ringed with cattails, grasses, sedges and emergent plants such as the beautiful swamp milkweed shown here. They are not only where some of our rarer plants on the island can be found but also nurseries for fish and invertebrates and other wildlife.

Our native plants are very important ecologically. Take a look at this post to discover some of the reasons why!

. In the meantime please have a look at this post on the benefits of native plants.