Carden Nature Guide

The Carden Plain

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Ontario's Carden Plain is a unique and largely unknown area of the Central Ontario Landscape. Located between Lake Simcoe and Balsam Lake this limestone plain features North America's most accessible alvars.

The abundance and variety of grassland bird species is the main attraction. Although, visitors will also find an amazing variety of butterflies dragonflies, and rare or unusual alvar plant species. In the spring and early summer Carden is carpeted with wildflowers.

pb020040The Plain is comprised primarily of grassland, shrub-land and alvar and features an extensive network of provincially significant wetlands. In 1999 the Carden Plain was designated a "Nationally Significant Important Bird Area".

Rare Alvar Habitat is found on limestone plains in the Baltic Sea of Sweden, in Estonia and in the Great Lakes basin of North America. Ecologically, they are harsh and inhospitable environments which support an extraordinary diversity of hardy but rare plants, animals and invertebrates.
The Carden Alvars are located in the north western half of the Carden Plain and host a marvelous variety of wildflowers and other plants including many rare and dislocated species such as Prairie Smoke. The plants and shrubs must be able to withstand a very harsh environment. Spring flooding occurs when winter snowfall melts; the water may lie on the limestone bedrock for months until evaporation creates virtual drought.