Flower has three pointed green bracts, with three offset red petals that look like flower petals. Centre has white antennae-like stamens.

Red Trillium; photo D. Gordon E. Robertson

by Christine Hanrahan

The growing popularity of wildflower gardening has led to an increased interest in seeing these plants in the wild. Here at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden (FWG), we provide a little bit of that “wild” where you can see a diverse mix of native and non-native wildflowers growing in profusion. It is worth visiting our site several times during the year as each season brings its own delights. To make your visit more enjoyable, tuck a wildflower field guide and a small hand-lens into your pocket and pick up a copy of our trail guide with its map of the garden.

* Indicates non-native species

Backyard Garden codes:

  • BB – Butterfly Bed
  • FT – Fern Trail
  • HF – Horticultural Favourites
  • OM – Ontario  Meadow
  • PT – Plum Tree Garden
  • RO – Rockery
  • SP – Summy Prairie
  • W – Wetland
  • WE – Woodland Edge
  • WW – Woodland Walk

Help conserve

We know how tempting it is to pick flowers, but please don’t! Uprooting or picking plants before they have had a chance to set seed means fewer plants will grow in subsequent years. Many of these plants are also an important food source for wildlife. Butterflies and bees feed on the nectar and birds and small mammals depend on the seeds.


Spring is brief in our part of the world, and the earliest flowers are just as short-lived. Most “spring ephemerals” grow in woodlands, appearing just before the trees leaf out, shortly after the last snow has melted. One of the earliest in our woods is Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) whose single large deeply-lobed leaf embraces the stalk of the pure white flower. As spring warms up, watch for trilliums, violets, Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Trout-lily (Erythronium americanum), and Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora). You might also see Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), whose tiny yellow flowers are actually encased in the green, purplestriped tube or spathe (the pulpit) and, therefore, are seldom seen.

Many woodland plants have relatively big leaves, allowing them to intercept more of the meagre sunlight filtering through the forest canopy for photosynthesis. Most North American woodland flowers are native, as many introduced species cannot survive in such shady conditions.

Bloodroot flowers; photo Christine Hanrahan

Primrose Moth on Evening Primrose its larval plant; photo D. Gordon E. Robertson

Common Milkweed; photo Christine Hanrahan


Summer is the season of greatest diversity and colour. It is also the time when many (non-native) “naturalized” species dominate. You may notice many of these along the service road and other disturbed areas. These species are very adaptable and can take advantage of the poor soil conditions in such places, unlike many native plants with their more specific habitat needs. You’ll see big swathes of showy Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) and White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba) and large clumps of Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), which are attractive to many species of bees and butterflies and good spots to watch for other interesting insects.

Many native species also thrive in the summer. Look for Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) and Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), a larval plant for Monarch butterflies.

On hot summer days, the woods are a cool retreat. Watch for native White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), a tall plant with clusters of tiny white flowers, and in sunnier openings with damper soils look for the orange Jewel-weed or Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis).

Wetland plants are particularly interesting. Our big pond supports a diverse flora. Look for Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and the aptly named Bur-reed (Sparganium americanum).


Summer’s end is signalled by the appearance of the first goldenrods. Soon the garden is ablaze with the golden hues of this beautiful native flower. We have at least five species growing here, including the abundant Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod is not responsible for the hay-fever that afflicts many people at this time of year. The culprit is the rather nondescript Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) which often grows around goldenrod. You may notice round swellings on the stems of goldenrods. These are galls, home to the goldenrod gall fly larvae. Despite appearances, the plants are rarely harmed by this activity.

Cooler days and longer nights tell us that the first frost is not far off. Signs of autumn are everywhere in the plant world. Asters replace many of the earlier wildflowers and are synonymous with the season. We have at least three species of aster in the garden, the most common being the New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) with spectacular deep purple flowers and yellow centres.

Giant Goldenrod; photo D. Gordon E. Robertson

New England Asters; photo D. Gordon E. Robertson


Why would you go flower spotting in winter? Trust us, there are still some interesting things to see, particularly in the open areas. The dead stalks and seed heads rising above the snow are not only beautiful, but provide an interesting challenge to your observation skills.

You will certainly see birds feeding on the seeds of many plants. Finches and sparrows particularly relish the tiny seeds of Evening Primrose, Ragweed, goldenrods, and asters. Non-native Common Burdock (Arctium minus) also attracts seed-eaters, although this can be fatal, as birds sometimes become entangled in the burs. You can add to the beauty of your own winter garden and help out the birds as well by not cutting back your flowers until spring.

After a winter walk around the garden, you may find a variety of seeds have hitched a ride on your clothes. Congratulations! You’ve just had a quick lesson in seed dispersal. Some plants have developed an interesting way to send forth their seeds to multiply. Encased in velcro-like seed pods which attach themselves to any passing creature, these seeds are readily transported some distance from their parent plant to new ground. Can you think of other ways in which seeds are dispersed?

As winter settles in, it sometimes seems that spring will never come again. But, take heart, beneath the snow many wildflowers are alive and well, awaiting only the longer days and warmer temperatures to burst into renewed growth.

Photo Christine Hanrahan

Native or not?

Many familiar, roadside wildflowers, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, Ox-eye Daisy, Tansy, and St. John’s Wort, are not native, but were introduced to North America by European settlers in the last century. Escaping cultivation long ago, they naturalized to such an extent they now seem part of our native flora. Some of plants, such as Purple Loosestrife, are extremely aggressive, particularly in meadows and wetlands where they have displaced native species. Others are less destructive. At the FWG, we are removing rampant alien species while allowing those beneficial to wildlife to remain.

Tansy flowers; photo D. Gordon E. Robertson

Species list (as of 30 September 2012)

In 1992, a quick inventory recorded 68 species on our 6.5-hectare site. Now, we have over 180 species. Although many have appeared on their own (seeds dispersed by wind, by birds or other animals, brought in with leaf litter and mulch, etc.), others have been planted. The list below includes only species that have survived and spread for more than five years. It does not include plants in the Backyard Garden, or trees, shrubs, ferns and grasses, which are treated separately.

Our list is by no means complete, and because plants come and go as conditions change and we are always planting native species, you may see something not listed here. If so, please contact us: (Fletcher Wildlife Garden).

NOTE: This plant list has been revised using the most recently ascribed scientific names. Previously used names are in parentheses. Many older field guides employ the old names, but guides published in the last few years use the most up-to-date names. In this list, where the genus remains the same but the species has changed, I have abbreviated the old name in parentheses; for example, Dryopteris carthusiana (D. spinulosa). When the genus changes, I have added the old name in full; for example, Elymus repens (Agropyron repens).

We thank Irving Dardick for allowing us to link to his collection of Wildflowers and other flora of Eastern Ontario and the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. Other photos are by Christine Hanrahan

Asterisks (*) mark the non-native species.

TYPHACEAE Cat-tail Family
Typha angustifolia Narrow-leaved Cat-tail Quenouille (ou Typha à feuilles étroites)

Sparganium emersum (S. chlorocarpum) Green Bur-reed Rubanier à fruits verts

ALISMATACEAE Water-plantain Family
Sagittaria latifolia Broad-leaved Arrowhead Sagittaire latifoliée

BUTOMACEAE Flowering Rush Family
Butomus umbellatus Flowering-rush* Jonc fleuri (ou Butome à ombelle)*

Elodea canadensis Canada Waterweed Élodée du Canada
Hydrocharis morsus-ranae Frog’s-bit* Hydrocharide grenouillette

POACEAE Grass Family
Agrostis gigantea Red-top Tremme
Alopecurus pratensis Meadow Foxtail Grass* Vulpin des prés*
Bromus inermis Common Brome Grass* Brome inerme*
Dactylis glomerata Orchard Grass* Dactyle pelotonné*
Digitaria sp. Crab Grass* Digitaire*
Echinochloa crusgalli Barnyard Grass* Échinochloa pied-de-coq*
Elymus repens (Agropyron repens) Quack Grass* Chiendent*
Festuca rubra Red Fescue* Fétuque rouge*
Glyceria maxima Giant Manna Grass* Grande glycérie*
Hordeum jubatum Foxtail Barley* Orge agréable*
Leersia oryzoides Rice Cut-grass Léersie faux-riz
Lolium perenne Perennial Rye grass* Ivraie vivace*
Panicum capillare Witch Grass Panic capillaire
Phalaris arundinacea Reed Canary Grass* Phalaris roseau*
Phleum pratense Timothy* Mil*
Poa compressa Canada Blue Grass* Pâturin comprimé*
Poa pratensis Kentucky Blue Grass* Pâturin des prés*
Setaria viridis Green Foxtail* Sétaire verte*

Carex pedunculata Long-stalked Sedge, Peduncled Sedge Carex pédonculé
Carex scoparia Broom Sedge Carex à balai
Scirpus pendulus Drooping Bulrush Scirpe pendant

ARACEAE Arum Family
Arisaema triphyllum Jack-in-the-pulpit Petit prêcheur

LEMNACEAE Duckweed Family
Lemna minor Small Duckweed Lenticule mineure (ou Lentille d’eau)
Lemna trisulca Ivy Duckweed Lenticule trisulquée
Spirodela polyrhiza Large Duckweed Spirodèle polyrhize

COMMELINACEAE Spiderwort Family
Commelina communis Dayflower* Comméline commune*

Juncus effusus Common Rush Jonc épars
Juncus tenuis Path Rush Jonc ténu

Erythronium americanum Trout-lily Érythrone d’Amérique
Lilium tigrinum Tiger Lily* Lis tigré*
Maianthemum racemosum (Smilacina racemosa) False Solomon’s-seal Smilacine à grapes
Maianthemum stellatum (Smilacina stellata) Starry False Solomon’s-seal Smilacine étoilée
Ornithogalum umbellatum Star-of-Bethlehem* Dame d’onze heures*
Polygonatum pubescens Solomon’s-seal Sceau-de-Salomon pubescent
Scilla sibirica Scilla Scille de Sibérie
Trillium erectum Red Trillium Trille dressée
Trillium grandiflorum White Trillium Trille grandiflore
Uvularia grandiflora Bellwort Uvulaire grandiflore

Epipactis helleborine Helleborine* Épipactis petite-hellébore*

URTICACEAE Nettle Family
Pilea pumila Clearweed Petite ortie (ou Piléa nain)
Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis Slender Stinging Nettle* Ortie élevée*

Asarum canadense Wild Ginger Gingembre sauvage

POLYGONACEAE Knotweed Family
Fallopia convolvulus (Polygonum concoluvulus) Black Bindweed Renouée liseron
Fallopia scandens (Polygonum scandens) Climbing False Bindweed Renouée grimpante
Persicaria maculosa (Polygonum persicaria) Lady’s Thumb* Renouée persicaire*
Persicaria sagittata (Polygonum sagittatum) Arrow-leaved Tear-thumb Renouée sagittée
Polygonum aviculare Knotweed* Renouée des oiseaux*
Rumex crispus Curled Dock* Rumex crépu*
Rumex salicifolius Willow Dock Rumex à feuilles de saule

Atriplex prostrata Orache* Arroche hastée*
Chenopodium album Lamb’s-quarters* Chénopode blanc*
Chenopodium simplex Maple-leaved Goosefoot Chénopode à feuilles d’érable
Chenopodium strictum Late-flowering Goosefoot Chénopode dressé

Amaranthus albus Tumbleweed* Amarante blanche*
Amaranthus powellii Powell’s Pigweed* Amarante de Powell*
Amaranthus retroflexus Redroot Pigweed* Amarante réfléchie*

Portulaca oleracea Purslane Porcelane

Cerastium fontanum Mouse-ear Chickweed* Céraiste visqueux*
Dianthus armeria Deptford Pink* Œillet arméria*
Saponaria officinalis Bouncing-bet, Soapwort* Saponaire officinale (ou Herbe à savon)*
Silene latifolia (S. alba) White Campion* Compagnon blanc*
Silene vulgaris Bladder Campion* Silène cucubale*

Actaea pachypoda Doll’s Eyes Actée à gros pédicelles
Actaea rubra Red Baneberry Actée rouge
Anemone canadensis Canada Anemone Anémone du Canada
Aquilegia sp. Columbine Ancolie du Canada
Clematis virginiana Wild Clematis Clématite de Virginie
Ranunculus abortivus Small-flowered Buttercup Renoncule abortive
Ranunculus acris Common Buttercup* Bouton d’or*

Menispermum canadense Moonseed Ménisperme du Canada

Chelidonium majus Celandine* Chélidoine majeure*
Sanguinaria canadensis Bloodroot Sanguinaire du Canada

Alliaria petiolata (A. officinalis) Garlic Mustard* Alliaire officinale*
Barbarea vulgaris Yellow-rocket* Barbarée vulgaire*
Berteroa incana Hoary-alyssum* Alysson blanc*
Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd’s-purse* Bourse-à-pasteur*
Erysimum cheiranthoides Wormseed Mustard* Vélar giroflée*
Hesperis matronalis Dame’s Rocket* Julienne des dames*
Iberis sempirvirens Candytuft* Ibéris toujours vert*
Lepidium densiflorum Pepper-grass* Lépidie densiflore*
Sinapis arvensis (Brassica kaber) Charlock, Wild Mustard* Moutarde sauvage*
Sisymbrium officinale Hedge Mustard* Sisymbre officinal*
Thlaspi arvense Field Penny-cress* Tabouret des champs*

SAXIFRAGACEAE Saxifrage Family
Mitella diphylla Mitrewort Mitrelle à deux feuilles
Tiarella cordifolia Foamflower Tiarelle cordifoliée

ROSACEAE Rose Family
Agrimonia gryposepala Hooked Agrimony Aigremoine à sépales crochus
Filipendula rubra Queen of the Prairie Filipendule reine des prairies
Fragaria virginiana Common Strawberry Fraisier de Virginie
Geum aleppicum Yellow Avens Benoîte d’Alep
Potentilla argentea Silvery Cinquefoil* Potentille argentée*
Potentilla recta Rough-fruited Cinquefoil* Potentille dressée*
Waldsteinia fragarioides Barren-ground Strawberry Waldsteinie faux-fraisier

FABACEAE Bean Family
Lathyrus sylvestris Everlasting Pea, Sweet pea* Gesse des bois*
Lotus corniculatus Bird’s-foot Trefoil* Lotier corniculé*
Lupinus polyphyllus Many-leaved Lupine* Lupin des jardins*
Medicago lupulina Black Medick* Luzerne lupuline*
Melilotus alba White Sweet-clover* Trèfle d’odeur*
Melilotus officinalis Yellow Sweet-clover* Trèfle d’odeur jaune*
Trifolium aureum (T. agrarium) Hop Clover* Trèfle jaune*
Trifolium hybridum Alsike Clover* Trèfle hybride*
Trifolium pratense Red Clover* Trèfle rouge*
Trifolium repens White Clover* Trèfle blanc*
Vicia cracca Cow Vetch* Vesce jargeau*
Vicia tetrasperma Slender Vetch* Vesce à quatre graines*

GERANIACEAE Geranium Family
Geranium robertianum Herb Robert* Herbe à Robert*

OXALIDACEAE Wood-sorrel Family
Oxalis stricta Wood Sorrel* Oxalide dressée

Acalypha virginica (A. rhomboides) Three-seeded Mercury

BALSAMINACEAE Touch-me-not Family
Impatiens capensis Spotted Touch-me-not, Orange Jewelweed Impatiente du cap

VITACEAE Grape Family
Parthenocissus vitacea Virginia Creeper Vigne vierge
Vitis riparia River Grape, Wild Grape Vigne des rivages

MALVACEAE Mallow Family
Malva moschata Musk Mallow* Mauve musquée*
Malva sylvestris High Mallow* Mauve des bois*

HYPERICACEAE St. John’s-wort Family
Hypericum perforatum Common St. John’s-wort* Millepertuis commun*

VIOLACEAE Violet Family
Viola blanda Sweet White Violet Violette agréable
Viola odorata Sweet Violet* Violette odorante*
Viola pubescens Downy Yellow Violet Violette pubescente

LYTHRACEAE Loosestrife Family
Decodon verticillatus Water-willow Décodon verticillé
Lythrum salicaria Purple Loosestrife* Salicaire pourpre*

ONAGRACEAE Evening-primrose Family
Circaea alpina Smaller Enchanter’s-nightshade Circée alpine
Circaea lutetiana ssp. canadensis (C. quadrisulcata) Enchanter’s-nightshade
Epilobium ciliatum (E. glandulosum) Willow-herb Épilobe glanduleux
Oenothera biennis Common Evening-primrose Onagre de Victorin
Oenothera parviflorum Small-flowered Evening Primrose Onagre parviflore

ARALIACEAE Ginseng Family
Aralia nudicaulis Sarsaparilla Salsepareille

APIACEAE Carrot Family
Daucus carota Queen Anne’s Lace, Wild Carrot* Carotte sauvage*
Osmorhiza claytonii Sweet Cicely Osmorhize de Clayton
Pastinaca sativa Wild Parsnip* Panais cultivé*

PRIMULACEAE Primrose Family
Lysimachia punctata Garden Loosestrife* Lysimaque ponctuée*

APOCYNACEAE Dogbane Family
Apocynum androsaemifolium Spreading Dogbane Apocyn à feuilles d’Androsème
Vinca minor Periwinkle* Pervenche mineure*

Asclepias syriaca Common Milkweed Asclépiade commune
Cynanchum rossicum Pale Swallow-wort, Dog-strangling Vine* Cynanche pâle*

CONVOLVULACEAE Morning-glory Family
Convolvulus arvensis Small Bindweed, Field Bindweed* Liseron des champs*
Calystegia sepium Hedge Bindweed Liseron des haies

Cynoglossum officinale Hound’s Tongue* Cynoglosse officinal*
Echium vulgare Viper’s Bugloss* Vipérine vulgaire*
Hackelia virginiana Virginia Stickseed Hackélia de Virginie
Lithospermum officinale Gromwell* Grémil officinal*
Symphytum officinale Comfrey* Consoude officinale*

VERBENACEAE Vervain Family
Verbena hastata Blue Vervain Verveine hastée

Galeopsis tetrahit Hemp Nettle* Galéopside à tige carrée*
Glechoma hederacea Ground-ivy* Lierre terrestre*
Leonurus cardiaca Motherwort* Agripaume cardiaque*
Mentha spicata Spearmint* Menthe poivrée*
Mentha sp. Mint species Menthe
Nepeta cataria Catnip* Herbe à chats*
Origanum vulgare Wild Marjoram* Origan vulgaire*
Physostegia virginiana Obedient Plant Physostégie de Virginie
Prunella vulgaris Heal-all, Self-heal* Prunelle vulgaire*

SOLANACEAE Nightshade Family
Physalis heterophylla Clammy Ground-cherry Coqueret hétérophylle
Solanum dulcamara Bittersweet Nightshade* Morelle douce-amère*
Solanum ptycanthum (Solanum americanum) Black Nightshade Morelle d’Amérique

Chelone glabra White Turtlehead Galane glabre
Linaria vulgaris Toadflax, Butter-and-eggs* Linaire vulgaire*
Penstemon digitalis White Beard-tongue Penstémon blanc
Penstemon hirsutus Hairy Beard-tongue Penstémon hirsute
Scrophularia lanceolata Figwort Scrofulaire lancéolée
Verbascum thapsus Common Mullein* Molène vulgaire*
Veronica longifolia Long-leaved Speedwell* Véronique à longues feuilles*

Plantago major Common Plantain* Plantain majeur*

RUBIACEAE Bedstraw Family
Galium mollugo White Bedstraw* Gaillet molugine*

Echinocystis lobata Wild Cucumber Concombre sauvage

CAMPANULACEAE Bellflower Family
Campanula rapunculoides Creeping Bellflower* Campanule fausse-raiponce*

Achillea millefolium Yarrow Achillée millefeuille
Ageratina altissima (Eupatorium rugosum) White Snakeroot Eupatorium rugueuse
Ambrosia artemisiifolia Ragweed Petite herbe à poux
Anaphalis margaritacea Pearly-everlasting Immortelle
Arctium minus Common Burdock* Petite bardane*
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort* Armoise vulgaire*
Bidens cernua Nodding Beggartick Bident penché
Bidens frondosus Beggarticks Bident feuillu
Centaurea jacea Brown Knapweed* Centaurée jacée*
Cichorium intybus Chickory* Chicorée sauvage*
Cirsium arvense Canada Thistle* Chardon des champs*
Cirsium vulgare Bull Thistle* Chardon vulgaire*
Conyza canadensis Horseweed Vergerette du Canada
Echinacea purpurea Purple Coneflower Échinacée pourpre
Erigeron annuus Daisy Fleabane Érigéron annuel
Erigeron philadelphicus Philadelphia Fleabane Érigéron de Philadelphie
Eupatorium maculatum Joe-pye Weed Érigéron de Philadelphie
Eurybia macrophylla (Aster macrophyllus) Big-leaf Aster Aster à grandes feuilles
Euthamia graminifolia (Solidago graminifolia) Grass-leaved Goldenrod Verge d’or graminifoliée
Galinsoga quadriradiata Galinsoga* Galinsoga cilié*
Helianthus grossesseratus Saw-toothed Sunflower* Hélianthe de grande taille*
Helianthus × laetiflorus? Beautiful Sunflower, Showy Sunflower* Hélianthe à belles feuilles*
Helianthus sp. Sunflower sp. Hélianthe sp.
Hieracium aurantiacum Orange Hawkweed* Épervière orangée*
Lactuca canadensis Canada Lettuce Laitue du Canada
Lactuca scariola Prickly Lettuce Laitue scariole
Leucanthemum vulgare Oxeye Daisy* Marguerite*
Matricaria discoidea (M. matricarioides) Pineapple Weed* Matricaire odorante*
Rudbeckia hirta Brown-eyed Susan (*?) Rudbeckie hérissée (*?)
Solidago sp. Goldenrod sp. Verge d’or sp.
Solidago altissima Tall Goldenrod Verge d’or très élevée
Solidago canadensis Canada Goldenrod Verge d’or du Canada
Solidago flexicaulis Zig-zag Goldenrod Verge d’or à tige zigzaguante
Solidago nemoralis Gray Goldenrod Verge d’or des bois
Solidago rugosa Rough Goldenrod Verge d’or rugueuse
Sonchus arvensis Sow-thistle* Laiteron des champs*
Sonchus asper Spiny-leaved Sow-thistle* Laiteron épineux*
Sonchus oleraceus Common Sow-thistle* Laiteron potager*
Symphyotrichum ciliatum (Aster ciliolatus) Ciliolate Aster Aster ciliolé
Symphyotrichum cordifolium (Aster cordifolius) Heart-leaved Aster Aster à feuilles cordées
Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (Aster lanceolatus) Panicled Aster Aster lancéolé
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (Aster novae-angliae) New England Aster Aster de la Nouvelle-Angleterre
Tanacetum vulgare Tansy* Tanaisie vulgaire*
Taraxacum officinale Dandelion* Pissenlit*
Tragopogon dubius Goat’s-beard* Salsifis majeur*


If you’d like more information about wildflowers in general, here are a couple of suggestions for further reading:

  • Michael Runtz. Beauty and the Beasts: The Hidden World of Wildflowers. Stoddart, 1994.
  • Brenda Chambers, et al. Forest Plants of Central Ontario. Lone Pine Publishing, 1996.
  • Dickinson, T.; Metsger, D.; Bull, J.; & Dickinson, R. The ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario, 2004.
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This page was revised on 17 March 2020
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