Nature walk with Rachel Gottesman

On Tuesday 19th August, naturalist Rachel Gottesman led us on a nature walk through Cedarvale ravine, jointly sponsored by Toronto Field Naturalists and Friends of Cedarvale. Bob Kortright, past president of TFN, also joined us and helped inform us about what we were looking at. The group of about 20 people gathered at 6.30 pm at the Heath St W subway entrance. Rachel is addressing part of the group and Bob is sitting on the bench (see below):

Our first stop was the sad sight of the dead ash trees near the subway entrance (that is what people are looking up at in the photo below). Bob said ash trees form about 8% of Toronto’s trees; they will nearly all die because of the emerald ash borer.

In the photo below, Rachel is pointing out burdock, an invasive weed. Behind it is common tall or Canada goldenrod. There are many types of goldenrod, of which at least three are evident in the park.

The plant below in the foreground is giant or great ragweed.

Below, Rachel is pointing out purple loosestrife, another invasive species, of which there is much to be seen throughout the lower part of the ravine. Bob is standing beside it and staring up at something (chimney swifts were flying around overhead). The plant in the foreground is one of the six varieties of lysimachia, which belongs to the primrose family.

Below  Rachel is explaining that the milkweed plant beside her has its flower/fruit cut off. Monarch caterpillars eat the milkweed leaves, which give them a noxious taste; this protects them from predators.

Friends of Cedarvale has partnered with LEAF to set up an Adopt-a-Park-Tree program in Cedarvale. Below Rachel is standing next to “her” tree, a yellow buckeye. More dead ash trees behind her. We have 7 trees here and also the 16 Japanese sakura cherry trees between the tennis courts and the children’s garden.

The yellow flowers below belong to the cup plant. Bob said that at one point this plant was endangered, but it has made a comeback and is now quite widespread.

The red berries below belong to cranberry viburnum, often inappropriately called high-bush cranberry; but it is a viburnum, not a cranberry.

Unfortunately, the photo below is blurry. But I included it anyway, since it is a male twelve spotted skimmer dragonfly. I asked Bob how he knew it was male and he said the white areas show this.

I also learned to tell the purple flowers of Joe pye weed, which is often seen with the purple loosestrife in the ravine.

The whole tour lasted about 2 hours and was very worthwhile. I certainly learned to put names to several of the plants I walk by so frequently. Many thanks to Rachel and Bob for taking the time to enlighten us!

Our next event will be a tree planting on Sunday 21st September at 10 am. Details to be announced later.

John Cummings

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