Plants and Fungi
Of all the living things that inhabit Algonquin Park, none are more important than plants. Plants almost completely blanket the landscape of the Park; they have an overwhelming influence in the lives of other organisms such as animals and fungi; and in form and colour, they are profoundly pleasing to the human eye.
Yet in spite of all of this, the plants of Algonquin are very often taken for granted. Except for the beauty of the Park's wildflowers, or during the peak of fall colours, many people pay hardly any real attention to our plants and as a result, are unaware of just how interesting they actually are.
Many people fail to realize, for example, how the beautiful Pitcher-plant of our Spruce Bogs, has adapted to living in a nutrient poor environment by capturing, drowning, and digesting insects to increase its intake of nutrients like nitrogen. Other people may not understand the incredibly complex relationship between flowers such as the Pink Lady's-slipper and the insects that are responsible for pollinating them.
There are four publications on Algonquin's plants produced by The Friends of Algonquin Park. The book, Trees of Algonquin Provincial Park describes the 34 native tree species found here, and along with beautiful colour photographs helps you to identify these trees, while the text explains how each succeeds in the struggle to survive and the influences they have on other plants and animals. Wildflowers of Algonquin Provincial Park introduces you to the common wildflowers found in the Park and is similar in format to the tree book. The Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Algonquin and the Checklist of the Bryophytes of Algonquin Provincial Park are in our technical bulletin series and together list all of the plants known from the Park. All of the above books can ordered from The Friends of Algonquin Park or purchased at various locations throughout the Park.
Park visitors can learn to appreciate the complexity and importance of our plants by joining a Park Naturalist on a tree or wildflower walk, or by attending an evening program on wildflowers. Such events are offered to Park visitors during the summer months through our Summer Interpretive Program. In addition, school and youth groups visiting the Park may be interested in programs offered through our Group Education Program.
Mushrooms and other fungi have a unique appeal and beauty, and Algonquin Park is a good place to see and enjoy them. Anyone who takes a walk in Algonquin, in any season, will see a variety of fungi. During the summer and fall, brightly coloured, umbrella- shaped mushrooms, candelabra corals, and puffballs may add delight to a woodland walk. The spring brings its own special mushroom season, starring the morels and false morels. During the winter, when the forest floor is covered with snow, a snowshower will see bracket fungi and other wood-rotting fungi on the trunks and branches passing by. Some of these even produce spores on the warmer winter days.
Familiar and yet unknown, fungi are everywhere and are an immensely important and extremely fascinating group of organisms. Every day we see them, walk by or on them, and even breathe and eat them (whether we want to or not), yet most of us know little about them.
Fungi, like plants, have an overwhelming influence on the lives of other organisms such as plants and animals. Some fungi are pathogens, causing diseases in plants or animals. Many more fungi are important partners to green plants, providing essential mineral nutrients. Still other fungi are involved in rot, the return of dead plant or animal matter to the soil through the process of decay.
No matter what role fungi play in Algonquin's various habitats, they all have extremely interesting ways of growing, finding food, and reproducing. During the summer months, you can learn more about Algonquin's fungi by joining a Park Naturalist on a mushroom walk - part of our well known Summer Interpretive Program.
School and youth groups may wish to learn more about Algonquin's fungi by booking a program through our Group Education Program.
In addition, The Friends of Algonquin Park produce two publications dealing with the Park's fungi. The Mushrooms of Algonquin Provincial Park is a brilliant book introducing you to the world of Algonquin's fungi. With colour photographs the book illustrates some of the Park's beautiful, and bizarre, fungi while the text describes the fascinating lives that these organisms lead. In the technical bulletin series, the Checklist of the Conspicuous Fungi of Algonquin Provincial Park lists 1051 species of conspicuous fungi known to occur in the Park. In addition, a third publication, the Checklist of the Lichens of Algonquin Provincial Park lists all of the lichens (part fungus and part algae) known to occur in the Park. All of the above books can ordered from The Friends of Algonquin Park or purchased at various locations throughout the Park.