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Captivating, Year round, Wildflowers

The Bruce Peninsula is home to 44 species of orchids, of which 2 species are not native to the area (they are likely escapees from gardens). But the botanical richness of the Bruce extends well beyond orchids. An overall large diversity of wildflowers can be found on the Bruce, including globally rare species such as Lakeside Daisy and Dwarf Lake Iris. This area is also renowned for its diversity of ferns, totalling about 3 dozen species. In addition, old-growth cedars reaching hundreds of years in age grow on the cliff faces and alvars of the Bruce Peninsula. Despite their gnarly and stunted appearance, these are the oldest trees in eastern North America.

Several key factors together give rise to the botanical diversity of the Bruce Peninsula

  • the large amount of habitat

  • the variety of habitats

  • a climate moderated by Lake Huron and Georgian Bay

  • a range of soil conditions

  • the temperate latitude means the Bruce is caught between the northern boreal forests and the southern hardwoods, and thus shares attributes of both

What wildflowers can you expect to see during the festival?

Wildflower blooming dates vary from year to year depending on weather, but you can expect to see several orchid species blooming on festival weekend, as well as a number of other wildflowers. These include some of the most sought-after species: Calypso Orchid (Flowerpot Island only), Ram’s Head Lady Slipper, Yellow Lady Slipper, Striped Coralroot, Lakeside Daisy, Dwarf Lake Iris (global endemic) and Fringed Polygala. The Festival will give you a good introduction to the diversity of wildflowers on the Bruce, and you'll need to make return visits throughout the spring, summer and early fall to see the full range of species found here.

What about other natural highlights?

Birding: The Bruce Peninsula is an excellent location for birding, both for migrants and breeding species. Migration will be tailing off in late May, but the breeding species will be in full song. Many sought-after songbirds nest in this area, including: Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and over fifteen warbler species. Some other highlights of the northern Bruce include Brewer’s Blackbird, Upland Sandpiper, Clay-coloured Sparrow and Sandhill Crane. For more info, visit the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory website.

You might also wish to participate in the Huron Fringe Birding Festival, which takes place around the same time as the Orchid Festival. For more information, visit:

Scenery: Bring your camera, hiking boots and binoculars because the scenery of the upper Bruce is nothing short of spectacular. The rugged shoreline where the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment meet the deep blue waters of Georgian Bay, accessible by a number of trails, offers some of the most stunning vistas in the country.


Orchids are very sensitive to disturbance - many species grow under extremely unique conditions, which are easily altered or destroyed. A damaged plant or patch may take years to grow back, if it is able to at all. For these same reasons, it is nearly impossible to transplant most of the wild orchids.

People from all over the world have come to discover and photograph the orchids and wildflowers of the Bruce Peninsula. Over the years, popular species have been heavily impacted by those who come to appreciate them. The impacts are cumulative: if only a few people step off trail and trample the site around an orchid, it may kill the plant. For example, about half of the local Calypsos have been lost in the past couple of decades by trampling and digging up. Your conscientious help is needed to save the species you cherish.Please do your part to preserve orchids on the Bruce Peninsula. 

The biggest threats to orchids and wildflowers on the Bruce Peninsula are:

  • Trampling

  • Picking

  • Digging Up

  • Habitat Loss 

Be Wildflower Friendly...
When viewing wildflowers:

  • stay strictly on trails 

  • look with binoculars from a distance 

  • do not trample around the plant 

  • do not touch the plant 

  • help educate others!

  • When photographing:

  • stay on the trail 

  • use longer lenses for distance 

  • no ground sheets 

  • help to educate others! Gardeners: never transplant orchids from the wild 

  • buy plants only from reputable sources that do not harvest from the wild 

  • help to educate others! Please report sightings of rare orchids to the National Parks. Thanks for doing your part to protect the orchids and wildflowers that we love to see!  

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