An Urban Wildspace- Leslie Spit Toronto

Submitted by cohan on

When I lived in Toronto, 1997 until 2007, I enjoyed cycling in some of the city's extensive green spaces- along the lakeshore, river valleys etc; One of the more unique areas was the Leslie Spit- Tommy Thompson Park as its officially known.
Originally started as a man-made breakwater to protect Toronto Harbour in Lake Ontario, as that function became less relevant, it became an accidental wild area, then a managed conservation area..
Dumping of construction/demolition rubble etc was continuing still in 2007 to extend the land space and create a secure shoreline on the stormy outer shore of the spit.. some areas are long since planted/established, some areas wer still being surfaced, others still pure rubble.. birds and shore habitat are being monitored and developed in some spots (breeding grounds of cormorants etc out of bounds to the public) and there are numerous plant species- some planted deliberately, others having arrived on their own- I don't know much about which are which!
A couple of websites:
I just got photos from one trip there online- after digging for the Argentina/Potentilla photos in another thread.. my knowledge of Ontario wildflowers is poor, since I always lived in downtown Toronto during my time in the province, so any ids or even confirmation of whether plants are native or not would be appreciated! Some of these I have a fair idea, some none!
Full albums here:

Myosotis? or?
Cypripedium- wonder if this was planted? only saw one...
Woodland trails- large stretches of various species or phases of Equisetum.. almost/no one on these small trails
Anemone- is it canadensis? don't know the range...
Cornus- sericea? more photos in albums- pretty green bugs on several...
Iris- I saw occasional things I presumed to be garden plants-- deliberate or not? day-lilies, rugosa roses etc
Lonicera- native or exotic?


Submitted by cohan on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 02:15

More images from the same day..

Showy Brassicaceae-- garden plant?
Invasive Ailanthus or Rhus?? I know, not at all the same, but they looked similar to me at certain
Charming small Potentilla with Sedum- acre? there were massive areas of this Sedum in some places, (have to find photos in full bloom) and clumps of it hanging on concrete blocks etc at water's edge...
Blue flowers- haven't tried to look up...Echium or..?
Fancy thistle, weed? or?

Submitted by Lori S. on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 07:42

Interesting grouping of plants.  
The iris is a german bearded (so presumably planted), the showy Brassicaceae is dame's rocket (Hesperis matronalis), and it is indeed Echium vulgare, which has one of my favourite common names, "viper's bugloss"... ?!!

Submitted by cohan on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 13:12

Tks, Lori-- for some reason I had something else in mind for Hesperis- maybe its just the colour of these ones that threw me off (maybe the colour is wrong in the photos?)
I think I've seen some definition of 'Viper's bugloss' but yeah, gotta love those old names rich in history and fantasy!
I didn't think the Iris was native- I just wonder if some of these garden plants could have seeded in here by accident (probably not iris, as birds and wind don't seem likely to be factors) or whether a piece of root could have been carried in with rubble etc.. maybe even guerilla gardening...

Tony, have a good trip, there should be quite a bit in the area to see.. are you just visiting family in the area, or travelling more widely?

Submitted by Hoy on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 14:14

Interesting place - could have been here too - in the southeastern parts of the country! The potentilla looks like P. argenta and the sedum is very acre-like ;)

Submitted by Tony Willis on Tue, 02/07/2012 - 05:34

hi Cohan

we are just flying into Toronto and are then of up the Bruce Peninsular round through Algonquin National Park and then on to Purdom Fen to look at Cyp reginae finishing with a couple of days culture (not my idea) at the end back in Toronto.

It is a trip to look at wild flowers with hopefully a few birds and other natural things thrown in.

Submitted by cohan on Tue, 02/07/2012 - 14:22

Sounds good, Tony :)

Trond, it probably is Sedum acre, non native .. I just don't know for sure if it was planted on purpose as a quick groundcover (seems likely considering how much of it there is) or got there by itself..