Restoring native plant & animal habitats is crucial to preserving biodiversity, and therefore preserving a healthy ecosystem. Many people, however, don't know what species are native to Southern Ontario and which have been introduced. Therefore, we thought it might be fun to ask our London Environmental Network staff to share their favourite native flora and fauna with us along with some fun facts!
Natalie - Green Economy London Hub Manager
My Favourite Native Species is: North American Beaver (Castor canadensis)
It's My Favourite Because: I love spotting beavers in the Thames River. They are incredibly smart creatures, very hardworking, and determined. If you do have the pleasure of spotting one, they usually will be doing something related to building their home or dam (chewing trees, swimming with sticks, etc). Beavers have the ability to change environments more than most species. The phrase, "busy as a beaver" isn't exaggerated.
Fun Fact: Their teeth never stop growing! The constant chewing of wood helps keep them to a manageable size.
Maya - Business Development Specialist
My Favourite Native Species is: Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganense)
It's My Favourite Because: It reminds me of the times I have spent hiking in Collingwood, Ontario.
Fun Fact: Michigan Lilies attract hummingbirds!
Skylar - Executive Director
My Favourite Native Species is: Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)
It's My Favourite Because: It's so easy to grow and attracts tons of pollinators to the flowers.
Fun Fact: They grow tall (5-7ft!) so be sure to put them at the back of a garden or area so it doesn't obstruct your view of your other flowers.
Priya - Environmental Program Development Specialist
My Favourite Native Species is: Swamp-Rose Mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos)
It's My Favourite Because: The flowers look so delicate and kind of tropical!
Fun Fact: The total Canadian population of Swamp rose-mallow is estimated to consist of fewer than 10,000 plants. Their status is "special concern", meaning they're not yet endangered, but may become endangered due to a combination of biological characteristics and threats.
Cole - Green Infrastructure Support Staff
My Favourite Native Species is: Scarlet Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
It's My Favourite Because: They are low-maintenance perennial with bright-coloured, wacky looking flowers that attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Fun Fact: They are best planted in groups to attract pollinators with their sweet aroma and can adapt to a variety of soil conditions; however, they grow best in damp soil and help to stabilize soil through rhizomes.
Marianne - Director of Programs
My Favourite Native Species is: Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
It's My Favourite Because: It bears beautiful white flowers and delicious edible fruit and spreads so well in my garden and my kids love to eat the fruit straight off the plant.
Fun Fact: Five to eleven soft-hairy white flowers are borne on a green, soft-hairy 3–15 centimetres stalk that usually lifts them above the leaves.
Leah - Operations Manager
My Favourite Native Species is: Gray Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)
It's My Favourite Because: I love the way goldenrod blooms its yellow-golden flowers to signal the end of summer and transition to fall and the way the plants brighten up fields, streets, and paths all across London.
Fun Fact: There are over 100 species of goldenrod!
Sasha - Environmental Efficiency Coordinator
My Favourite Native Species is: Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
It's My Favourite Because: They are a low-maintenance and beautiful groundcover for your garden. White petaled flowers give way to adorably tiny and delicious strawberries.
Fun Fact: They are one of the two species of wild strawberry that were hybridized to create the modern domesticated garden strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa).
Dipika - Environmental Project Specialist
My Favourite Native Species is: Midland Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata)
It's My Favourite Because: I love its unique colour. When you take a closer look there are vibrant splashes of colourful patterns on its body and shell, which I think is pretty neat!
Fun Fact: These creatures must be in the water while they eat, as their tongues do not move freely and they need to be underwater to swallow.
Kelly - Community Organizer
My Favourite Native Species is: Groundhog (Marmota monax)
It's My Favourite Because: Behind my apartment, a little groundhog makes an appearance almost once a day. It brings me so much joy to watch it make its way across the lawn eating dandelions and other vegetation. It's a bonus when there are more than one too, just the cutest sight to see!
Fun Fact: Their vacant dens are reused by other animals like foxes, otters, chipmunks and weasels. Sometimes, the burrow doesn’t even need to be vacant! During hibernation, raccoons, rabbits, and skunks sometimes occupy a section of the burrow.