In contrast with the prairies and dry oak woodlands surrounding it, Spring Creek ravine contains many moist and wet habitats. Wet meadows and marshes flourish at the bottom of the ravine. Deep and narrow, it traps the cooler air. The east-facing slopes are coolest because they are in shade for most of the afternoon.
Just underneath the sandy soil of the park's uplands is a layer of clay that forces water to travel sideways - creating a supply of water where it seeps out along the lower slopes of the ravine. Due to the constant presence of water and the cooler temperatures, the forest and marshes are rich in plant life and alive with creatures.
This ravine is home to six different plant communities. The ravine's dominant plant community, the Red Oak-Red Maple Deciduous Forest, is found nowhere else in the park. Two other plant communities, the Red-osier Dogwood Thicket Swamp and the Bluejoint Meadow Marsh, are found in only one other place in High Park. The coolest areas have more boreal affinities, with Eastern Hemlock and understorey plants associated with more northerly conditions.
Red-backed salamanders breed on the damp forest floor, while birds such as wood thrush and chipping sparrow forage and nest in the trees above.
False Solomon's Seal
Zig Zag Goldenrod
Lily of the Valley
Source: High Park Nature Centre brochure, 2008