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Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve

A truly outstanding array of rare habitats and species.

Grey-headed coneflowers © Deirdre Dimitroff

About

Ontario Nature acquired Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve through a campaign spearheaded by Dr. Stewart Hilts and Donald Kirk. It was financed through a loan from the Ontario Heritage Foundation, and then paid back by generous donations from Ontario Nature members, local naturalist clubs and the Carolinian Canada Program.

The Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club are the official stewards of the reserve.

Salamander event, Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve

Plants and Animals

A truly outstanding array of rare habitats and species is packed into Stone Road Alvar, a 42-hectare property of oak-hickory woodland, oak savannah, red cedar savannah, old-field thicket and open alvar communities. The reserve is home to 44 provincially rare and 33 regionally rare plant species. Alvars have their own unique flora adapted to the extreme heat, variations in moisture and rocky calcareous soil.

The scattered oaks are predominantly chinquapins which, despite their stunted appearance, are often more than 100 years old. Of special note is the local abundance of downy wood mint, a plant whose Canadian range is restricted to Pelee Island. The reserve has two other plant species that occur nowhere else in Canada: navel-shape cornsalad and yellow horse-gentian.

Monarch Caterpillar

Visiting

Most of the open area is characterized by scattered shrubs and limestone outcrops. Here, visitors may find small elusive plants such as smaller skullcap, false pennyroyal and narrow-leaved vervain. From late July to early September, all of the open areas are ablaze with the yellow of coneflowers, purple of nodding wild onions and white clusters of the whorled milkweed.

Blackburnian warbler © Noah Cole

Directions

Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve is located on Pelee Island which can be reached by ferry from Leamington or Kingsville from late March to early December. Book ahead if you plan to take your vehicle across.

On the island, take the Shore Road south to East-West Road. Follow this road east for four km until you come to a densely wooded area on the south side of the road. Turn south onto Stone Road and continue just past the old schoolhouse on the right side. Here there is a narrow opening in the thickets, where a path has been established. To help protect the rare, fragile species that are present, please walk on the gravel nature trail only.

View Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve in a larger map

Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve © Laura Lewis-Watts

Monarch and coneflowers © April Mathes

Photos

Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve is generously supported by: