parts of a tree
arboreal emblems of canada
naturely speaking with jim ferguson
Photo: mixed woods in snow.
© Clayton Rollins
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Canada stretches across five time zones and numerous climate regions. The Arctic Circle is covered in permafrost, yet Point Pelee in southern Ontario is further south than northern California. The soil and water and conditions that sustain the nations forest, vary greatly across such geographic expanse. As a result, Canada features 12 forest regions and sub-regions, each supporting characteristic tree species and forest types.

Boreal (predominantly forest) - the largest forested area in Canada This region forms a continuous belt from Newfoundland and Labrador west to the Rocky Mountains and north to Alaska. The boreal forest is mostly coniferous, but includes a mix of deciduous trees such as white birch and trembling aspen.

Boreal (forest and barren) - a sub-region north of the Boreal Forest Region. A colder climate and shorter growing season nurtures predominately spruce and larch (tamarack). Along the northern edge the forest thins into open lichen-woodland and then treeless Tundra.

Boreal (forest and grass) - a sub-region south of the main Boreal Forest Region. A warmer climate nurtures this deciduous forest where trembling aspen and willow flourish along the edge of the prairie.

Subalpine - a coniferous forest stretching from the mountainous uplands of Alberta, across the Rocky Mountain range, through the interior of British Columbia to the Pacific Coast. The Sub-alpine and Boreal regions both features species such as black spruce, white spruce and trembling aspen.

Montane – covers most of the interior uplands of British Columbia, part of the Kootenay Valley and a small area east of the Rocky Mountains. It is a northern extension of the typical forest of much of the western mountain system of the United States. Extensive prairie communities of bunch-grasses and herbs are found in many of the river valleys.

Coast - a unique area along the Pacific coast of British Columbia that is almost exclusively coniferous.

Columbian - encompasses a large part of the Kootnay Valley, the upper Thompson and Fraser river valleys and the Quesnel Lake area of British Columbia. This coniferous region merges with Coast, Montane and Sub-alpine forest regions.

Deciduous (Carolinian) - widespread across the eastern United States and extending into southwestern Ontario between Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario. Some southern deciduous trees have their northern limits in this region: tulip tree, cucumber tree, pawpaw, red mulberry, Kentucky coffee tree, sassafras, black oak and pin oak. Conifers are few but there is a scattered distribution of eastern white pine, Tamarack, eastern red cedar and eastern hemlock.

Great Lakes/St Lawrence - extends inland from the Great Lakes and St, Lawrence River to southeastern Manitoba, but does not include the area north of Lake Superior. This region is mixed coniferous-deciduous which in addition to the principal tree species includes wide ranges of eastern white cedar and largetooth aspen

Acadian – stretches across most of the Maritime provinces. The region is closely related to the Great Lakes–St Lawrence Region and to some extent Boreal Region.

Grasslands - though not a forest region, the prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta support several species of trees in great numbers. Trembling aspen forms groves or bluffs around wet depressions and continuous dense stands along the northern boundary.

Tundra - a treeless area between the polar icecap and the treeline of the Arctic region. Its permanently frozen sub-soil (permafrost) and a short growing season supports only small, hardy vegetation.




Volume 4 of the Canada’s Forests Teaching Kit features a full colour poster illustrating the Arboreal Emblems of Canada and the Forest Regions of Canada.