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Word of the Week: Canescent

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Canescent [kuh-NES-uh nt] (adjective): Describing a plant that is covered in soft, short hairs that are a gray or hoary color.

Deep in High Park, where the black oak trees grow, the grasses are tall, and the soil is sandy, there are some blue-purple friends that are blooming once again!

Wild Lupines are perennial wildflowers that have elongated clusters of pea-like flowers that are blue-purple in colour. Since the flowers are so showy, if you forget to stop and take a closer look, you might miss the fact that their stems and palmately compound leaves are canescent; covered in soft, short, gray hairs.

These beautiful wildflowers grow in a special habitat known as the Black Oak Savannah and are the ONLY host plant for the Karner Blue Butterfly. The Black Oak Savannah is a habitat that is rare and endangered in Ontario, and as such, it has become more difficult to find these Wild Lupines. Because of that, the Karner Blue Butterfly has not been seen in Ontario since 2009!

High Park is one of the few places in Ontario with remnants of the Black Oak Savannah, which is why we can still see blooming Wild Lupines. We are so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to contribute, learn, and teach in this important space.

Keep an eye out for these blue-purple wildflowers on your next visit to High Park!

To learn more about the story of the Black Oak Savannah in High Park: