The Bruce has a uniquely diverse
range of habitats from rugged cliffs to the
dry alvars to the swampy wetlands. The broad-leafed
forests on the peninsula are made up of mainly
of sugar maple, beech, basswood, white oak,
red oak, shag-bark hickory, black walnut and
butternut. White pine, red pine and red oak
dominate the forest along dry ridge tops. The
Dorcas Bay Nature Reserve is a fragile ecosystem
that begins with wet bogs that are home to some
of the peninsulas 43 species of orchid
and insectivorous plants including pitcher plants,
sundew and butterworts. Of the orchids the most
amazing are the Calypso Lady's Slipper, the
Dwarf Lake Iris, and the Alaskan Rein. About
half the world's Dwarf Lake Iris, most of Canadas
Indian plantain and over 20 varieties of fern,
including the rare Northern Holly Fern, are
found on the peninsula. Beyond the fen, is sandy
forest with stands of red and white pine and
dense cedar bush interspersed with lichen-covered
rocky knolls called alvars which may harbour
mixed forest of cedar, spruce, birch and aspen.
Alvars are flat open areas of limestone bedrock
with little or no soil where primarily vascular
plants, mosses and lichens create a unique habitat.
Of the 54 vascular plants known to grow mostly
on alvars, 17 are designated as provincially
rare. In winter, alvars have little snow coverage
but in spring, growth begins early as the rock
warms quickly. In summer a prairie-type flora
often gives the alvar a grassland appearance.
Ferns and moss also grow in the cracks of rocks
where small amounts of soil have collected.
Most surprising are the dwarfed and twisted
cedars that grow on ledges and out of cracks
in sheer rock faces far from any soil. In 1988
a 511 year old cedar was discovered growing
from one of these cliffs.