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Fall in Toronto

Birds

Fall in Toronto

Arthropods

Fall in Toronto

Wildflowers

Fall in Toronto

Trees & Shrubs

Fall in Toronto

Mushrooms

Fall in Toronto

European Starling

Starlings are human commensals, thriving in urban areas. Starlings hunt for bugs in the soil and litter layer of grassed areas, such as lawns, sports fields and sidewalks verges. They use a technique called “gaping” in which the beak is thrust into the sward and forced open to expose bugs hiding inside. Starlings are hole-nesters, building a coarse nest bowl inside any suitable cavity. They have even started nesting inside the hollow precast hydro poles now replacing the old wooden poles. Pairs can raise two, sometimes three, broods between May and October. In winter, starlings feed in flocks, and at dusk gather in large, communal roosts.

Description: Robin-sized black bird. Starlings have a bustling gait, and appear to “strut” as they walk rather than hop. In spring and summer, sharp yellow beak, short tail, and shiny purple-black plumage. Young starlings are light brown, and nosiy as they trail their parents demanding food. By late summer, starlings have moulted into their white speckled winter plumage, and their beaks are black.

Habitat: Urban, including playing fields, farmyards. Visit bird feeders.

Length: 15 cm

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris

Fall in Toronto

Black-capped Chickadee

A favourite of backyard birdwatchers, chickadees are confiding and in winter can easily be trained to take food by hand. In fall, birds will store hundreds of seeds in holes and crevices throughout their woodland range. Later in winter, they can remember each cache and retrieve them! In winter chickadees are often seen in mixed species flocks along with nuthatches and woodpeckers.

Description: Sparrow-sized woodland bird with a chubby body and an oversize head that gives it a chick-like appearance.

Habitat: Forest, especially deciduous and mixed woods, but also parkland and urban gardens. Visits bird bird feeders.

Length: 8 cm

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Parus atricapillus

Fall in Toronto

Blue Jay

A familiar bird of suburban backyards where they are noisy and conspicuous most of the year. In winter, Blue Jays live in mobile flocks of males and females, adults and immatures. These flocks will descend on backyard bird feeders and chase off other birds. In the Fall, Blue jays will hide acorns and peanuts in caches that they memorize the location of, so they can re-find in winter. Gives a range of loud calls, including bell-like calls. In March, the winter flocks break up into smaller courtship groups usually consisting of two females and a number of adult and young males. Eventually, pairs form and nesting begins. Young males may not breed in their first year.

Description: Distinctive, medium-sized blue and white bird with a prominent blue crest. Males and females look alike. Relatively short, rounded wings and a flap-and-glide flight.

Habitat: Forest, especially forest edge, but inhabits wide range of habitats with trees including backyards, where in winter it visits bird feeders.

Length: 25 cm

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Cyanocitta cristata

Fall in Toronto

American Goldfinch

Goldfinches are strict seedeaters, preferring to perch on the seedheads of thistles and sunflowers. In flight, they give a “tinkling” call, their flight is bouncy and undulating, and their wings flash black and white. Some goldfinches stay in Toronto over winter and they will visit hanging feeders.

Description: In summer, this sparrow-sized yellow bird is understandably mistaken for a canary, especially the males in their bright yellow breeding plumage and black cap and wings. The female is pale yellow and does not have a black cap. In early Fall, goldfinches undergo a complete moult of their feathers and males and females both look a uniform olive-yellow.

Habitat: Old fields and urban parkland. Visits bird feeders.

Length: 11 cm

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Carduelis tristis

Fall in Toronto

Ring-billed Gull

The familiar “seagull” of carparks and inland waters. Toronto gulls are well habituated; in carparks they will perch on light standards and watch for discarded human food to scavenge. Tommy Thompson Park on the waterfront now supports one of the largest gull nesting colonies on the Great Lakes.

Description: Crow-sized white bird. Adults have yellow legs, webbed feet, narrow, pointed grey wings and a yellow beak with a black band at the tip (hence the name). Immature gulls are mottled grey and light brown and do not attain the full adult plumage for several years.

Habitat: Freshwater, especially lake shores. In urban areas can be found in car parks and garbage dumps.

Length: 47 cm

Weight: 550 grams

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Larus delawarensis

Fall in Toronto

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorants are large colonial waterbirds that dive underwater in search of small fish, propelling themselves with strongly webbed feet. During these dives their feathers become very wet as they do not produce enough preening oil to waterproof themselves. They can often be seen perched beside the water after fishing forays, with wings spread out to dry. Cormorants have relatively small wings for their body size and must taxi for some distance when taking off from the water. But once airborne, cormorants are capable of flying fast and very high in their loose V-shaped flocks.

Description: Double-crested Cormorants are long necked, goose-sized, black waterbirds that have a narrow hooked bill, and an orange facial patch of bare skin. They sit low on the water’s surface with head tilted up. In flight the neck appears slightly bent.

Habitat: Freshwater, especially large lakes and rivers. Widespread in coastal areas, estuaries and sizable inland water bodies in North America and Mexico. Water bodies with adequate populations of fish are the primary requirement. Perching sites in trees, or on man-made structures such as docks, are also important.

Length: 80 cm

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Phalacrocorax auritus

Fall in Toronto

Great Blue Heron

Usually seen alone, standing motionless in still water patiently watching for a passing fish. When prey is spied, the long neck is folded up and retracted. The strike involves the heron throwing out the neck and beak like a spear. In late summer and fall, herons migrating from northern breeding colonies arrive in the city; some stay if the winter is mild; most migrate south to the east coast of the United States where they switch diet to marine crabs and estuarine fish.

Description: Tall grey heron with a long neck and a long, dagger-like beak. In flight they appear to labour, with deep wingbeats, neck folded in and long legs stretched out the back. Juveniles (first-year birds) are grey overall, and usually heavily streaked on the front.

Habitat: Lakes, ponds, large rivers.

Length: 120 cm

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Ardea herodias

Fall in Toronto

Rock Pigeon

Familiar pigeon of parks and streetscapes. At a food source, pigeons will quickly fill their crop, a distensible pocket in the oesophagus, then fly up to a safe perch where they slowly digest the meal. Can breed year-round, building a simple stick nest on building ledges.

Description: Grey pigeon with iridescent green head and pinkish front, short pink legs and small head. Much individual variation, but most birds have a white patch on the lower back and two black bands on the wings.

Habitat: Urban. Visits bird feeders.

Length: 20 cm

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Columba livia

Fall in Toronto

House Sparrow

The familiar sparrow of city sidewalks and backyards. Usually live in small, noisy flocks which get bigger in winter as families coalesce. Primarily a seedeater, but in the breeding season it feeds nestlings with insects, and gardeners sometimes despair of sparrows browsing the tender shoots of vegetables.

Description: In summer the sexes are easy to distinguish; male has a chestnut back, pale grey front and a black throat, female is paler and does not have a black throat. In winter, males still look a little darker but they do not have a prominent black throat patch.

Habitat: Urban, including farmyards. Visits bird feeders.

Length: 12 cm

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Passer domesticus

Fall in Toronto

Mallard

The Mallard is the most abundant and widespread duck in the world. This species belongs to the group of “dabbling ducks” that feed in shallows, either at the surface, or by tipping the anterior body underwater, leaving the tail end sticking up above the water. Mallards also feed on land and have adapted very well to urban environments. This species hybridizes with other dabblers, including Black Ducks and Pintails. Native to the north temperate zones of North America and Eurasia, it has been introduced to some southern hemisphere countries as a game bird. It is considered to be the ancestor of most domesticated ducks.

Description: Male in breeding plumage has a glossy green head, white collar and a dark brown front, with a bright yellow beak. Females are mottled brown and difficult to distinguish from females of some other dabbling duck species such as Gadwall and Black Duck. Both sexes have a blue wing patch (speculum) with white borders.

Habitat: Marshes, ponds and lakes, large rivers, urban parks.

Length: 40 cm

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos

Fall in Toronto

Canada Goose

The characteristic V-shaped flocks of these large, easily recognized and highly vocal birds are known to virtually all Canadians. Unlike Canada geese in far northern parts of their range, Toronto’s flocks are “non-migratory.” Some flocks remain close to the waterfront, while others “commute” from Lake Ontario, where they spend the night, to foraging areas in urban parks and other grassy areas, or farm fields on the outskirts of the City.

Description: Males and females look alike, but males are about 10% larger, on average. This is a large, distinctive, plump brownish bird with a long black neck, and a black head with a white chin and cheeks. The call is a loud, pleasant honk. The chicks (goslings) hatch with a covering of natal down feathers that are striped gold and black and which helps camouflage them in the grassy margins of ponds and wetlands. The juveniles are grey and white, not the white and black of the adults.

Habitat: Lakes, ponds and coastal marshes. In our area they are often seen grazing on grass in parks, and along the edges of ponds and other moist places.

Length: 110 cm

Adults: January - December

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Branta canadensis

Fall in Toronto

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Our smallest bird, the ruby-throated hummingbird is only seen in Toronto in spring as it migrates through the city north, and in late summer again en-route back south to Central America. Hummingbirds feed on flower nectar, but also eat insects, especially the females during the nesting season. Females are a little larger than males and lack the bright scarlet throat patch. During both migration periods it pays to put out a sugar-water feeder for them.

Habitat: Open woodlands, gardens, parks, especially where flowers grow. Visits nectar feeders.

Length: 9 cm

Origin: Native

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Archilochus colubris

Fall in Toronto

American Crow

The only large all-black land bird that you are likely to see in Toronto (the other is the double-crested cormorant which is a water bird). In flight, broad wings have a ragged wing-tip appearance due to wing slots. The loud “caw” call is distinctive, and is given loudly and repeatedly, especially when chasing enemies such as the Red-tailed hawk. Crows are smart birds that live year-round in family groups. They are omnivores, often seen feeding on road kill.

Description: Large black bird with a robust beak. Up close, you can see dense bristles covering the nares (nostrils). Broad wings with prominent wing slots.

Habitat: Open habitat, especially open fields with scattered woods, and agricultural land. Urban.

Length: 50 cm

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos

Fall in Toronto

Northern Cardinal

Cardinals will stay together in pairs all year, and keep in contact with loud click calls. Male song (females sometimes sing also) consists of loud, repeated whistles, and you can hear it at any time of year. A common visitor to bird feeders, where they use their deep conical-shaped beak to easily crack sunflower husks and then eat the seed.

Description: The unmistakeable bright red plumage and crest of the male cardinal contrasts with the more subdued female colouration. The red hue to the feathers is due to carotenoid pigments derived from the diet.

Habitat: Forest, woodland, gardens.

Length: 22 cm

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Fall in Toronto

American Robin

A common sight in gardens and especially on lawns where the Robin hunts for earthworms which it detects mainly by sound. Hunting birds will pause and cock their heads to listen. Males are well-known songsters, and they sing from before dawn in spring, with another burst at dusk.

Description: Plump, grey bird with a rust-coloured breast and relatively long tail. Up close, yellow beak and white eye-ring contrast with the dark head. Female has sightly more subdued colouring than the male. Young Robins are speckled brown, and usually naiive and rather too confiding.

Habitat: Familiar bird of suburban lawns. Forest, especially forest edge, open woodlands, parklands, backyards.

Length: 15 cm

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Turdus migratorius

Fall in Toronto

Garden Spider

Also called the “cross spider” because of the pattern on the abdomen. Usually sits at centre of web waiting for prey. Webs are dismantled and new webs set up in fresh locations regularly.

Habitat: Woodland edge, gardens, fields.

Length: 13-19 mm

Adults: June - October

Scientific name: Araneus diadematus

Fall in Toronto

Grass Spider

It is a large spider, often reaching an inch in length. They build abundant webs of the funnel type in grass, low shrubs and occasionally near buildings. Few people realize how many webs are in the grass until the webs are made visible in the morning by the dew. Grass Spiders live for a year and often occupy the same web unless it it disturbed. They have a retreat in the web, the funnel, where they hide until prey falls into the web. They then run accross the web and drag their prey into the tunnel, which often has a rear door if the spider needs to retreat. From http://www.whatsthatbug.com/spiders2.html

Scientific name: Agelena naevia

Fall in Toronto

Carolina Grasshopper

This stone-coloured grasshopper looks non-descript until it is flushed and it reveals the striking hind wings which are black with a pale yellow border. Escape flight is fluttery and the path is zig-zaggy. When flushed from the trail, the Carolina Grasshopper draws your attention as it flashes its black and yellow hind wings. Then, it quickly drops to the ground again, closes its wings and disappears from view! This “dash-and-freeze” behaviour helps confuse predators that fixate on the flash of colour only to lose sight of the insect after it lands.

Description: Large, stone-coloured grasshopper with short antennae and large wings. , only visible in flight, are black with a pale yellow border. Escape flight is fluttery and the path is zig-zaggy.

Habitat: Quite common in fields, dry meadows, and best seen when flushed off dirt trails.

Length: 30 mm

Adults: June - October

Scientific name: Dissosteira carolina

Fall in Toronto

Short-horned Grasshopper

Grasshoppers with antennae that are shorter than their body length. Common in dry meadow and open areas. Often encountered on trails at edges of fields, and will hop or fly into cover when approached.

Description: Grasshoppers with relatively short (shorter than body) antennae. Common in dry meadow and open areas. Often encountered on trails at edges of fields, and will hop or fly into cover when approached. Females lay eggs in the ground in late summer and early fall. Eggs overwinter and hatch in spring.

Habitat: Fields.

Length: 20 mm

Adults: June - October

Scientific name: Melanoplus sp.

Fall in Toronto

Snowy Tree Cricket

Slender, pale green crickets most often heard calling from shrubs and woodland edges. Known as the “temperature cricket” because their song rate increases with the ambient temperature in a predictable way. Usually well-concealed, it you do find a calling male you can see the broad clear wings which they rub against each other to produce the distinctive chirping sounds. Females have narrow wings and a distinctive ovipositor which they lay eggs with.

Habitat: Usually encountered in vegetation, such as trees, shrubs and tall wildflowers.

Length: 15 mm

Adults: July - October

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Oecanthus fultoni

Fall in Toronto

Black-horned Tree Cricket

Males have wider wings than females, and use them to produce a continuous trill to attract a female. Adults are predators on aphids and small caterpillars.

Description: Pale green, slender cricket with translucent wings and long antennae. Males have wider wings than females, and use them to sing to attract female. Song is a continuous trill. Docile and easily observed close-up. Adults are predators on aphids and small caterpillars.

Habitat: Usually encountered in vegetation, such as trees, shrubs and tall wildflowers.

Length: 20 mm

Adults: July - October

Scientific name: Oecanthus nigricornis

Fall in Toronto

Dogday Cicada

The characteristic loud buzzing song of the male cicada is a sure sign of summer. On a hot day, the tree canopy can resound with the calls of thousands of males hoping to attract a female for mating. The mated female lays eggs in crevices in the branches and trunks of trees. The larvae move to the ground, burrow into the soil, and remain there for 13 - 17 years. When they finally emerge again, the nymphs moult their skin and become adults.

Description: Green edges to front half of the wings. Up close a distinctive green pattern on the thorax. Normally heard rather than seen in late summer when the adult males sing.

Habitat: Fields, woodland edges.

Length: 30 mm

Adults: July - October

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Tibicen canicularis

Fall in Toronto

Field Cricket

Black, robust cricket which has an oversized, helmet-shaped head. Crickets are usually heard rather than seen. Adult males sing day and night in late summer and early fall. Females lay eggs in early fall, the eggs overwinter in the ground and hatch the following spring. The juveniles are miniature versions of the adults and take at least three months to reach maturity.

Description: Female crickets sport a long, curved ovipositor. Males sing two types of songs: a long-range calling song which is to attract females, and a courtship song given when a female is near. The calling song is a series of chirps given at a frequency that is partly influenced by ambient temperature, and which has been described as sounding like “breep-breep-breep”.

Habitat: Common in dry meadows, fields, roadsides.

Length: 20 mm

Adults: July - October

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Gryllus pennsylvanicus

Fall in Toronto

Locust Borer

A member of the “Long-horned Beetle” family as evidenced by the long antennae. Adults eat pollen and nectar of Goldenrods.

Description: Bluey-black with yellow stripes. Legs red. Elongated oval shape. A member of the “Long-horned Beetle” family as evidenced by the long antennae. Adults eat pollen and nectar of Goldenrods.

Habitat: Goldenrod plants in meadows and fields.

Length: 20 mm

Adults: June - October

Scientific name: Megacyllene robiniae

Fall in Toronto

European Paper Wasp

This slender wasp, with smokey brown wings and two-tone antennae has become quite widespread in Toronto since it was first recorded here in 2001. The queen emerges from hibernation in spring, builds the initial nest and lays an egg in each cell, then tends the first brood herself.

Description: Slender wasp, with yellow and black patterning. Wings smokey brown. Antennae bi-coloured. Long-legged especially noticeable in flight when hind legs dangle.

Habitat: Dry meadow, fields, backyards.

Length: 25 mm

Wingspan: 50 mm

Adults: June - October

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Polistes dominulus

Fall in Toronto

German Yellowjacket

Yellowjackets are predatory wasps that hunt caterpillars, spiders, and flies to provision their larvae with. Adults mostly feed on plant sap and nectar, but in late summer when the nest colonies are burgeoning, workers are unwelcome guests at picnics as they scavenge for meat and sugary drinks.

Description: Stocky, black and yellow wasp with short, black antennae. German Yellowjackets have three dots on the face, and arrow-shaped marks down the middle of the abdomen.

Habitat: Fields, gardens.

Length: 14 mm

Wingspan: 30 mm

Adults: June - October

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Vespula germanica

Fall in Toronto

Monarch

Big and beautiful, the Monarch has vivid orange wings with black veins and black borders that are spotted with white. Colourfully striped caterpillars eat the leaves of Common Milkweed. The thick milky sap of the food plant contains compounds that make the caterpillars unpalatable to predators. The chrysalis is a pale luminous green spangled with gold. The last brood in Fall is migratory. Monarchs congregate at Great Lakes shoreline areas where they feed on wildflower nectar before migrating south, en route to Mexican wintering grounds.

Description: Large, conspicuous orange butterfly. Wing margins and veination is black giving a distinctive pattern. Upperwing is deep orange, is paler orange. Sexes can be distinguished by close examination of the hindwings. Males have on the hind wings which are used in mating. Males also tend to have less vein pigmentation than females and so look lighter.

Habitat: Fields, meadows with host plant Common Milkweed.

Wingspan: 120 mm

Adults: June - October

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Danaus plexippus

Fall in Toronto

European Skipper

This lively orange butterfly darts about grasses with an erratic flight. Females lay their eggs in the stems of their preferred larval food plants, Cocksfoot and Timothy grass, in late summer and the eggs overwinter. Accidentally introduced from Europe to London, Ontario in 1910, the European Skipper is now common and widespread.

Description: Burnt orange butterfly. Up close you can see the tips of the antennae are curved into pointed hooks, a characteristic of the Skipper family.

Habitat: Grasslands, meadows, roadside verges.

Wingspan: 20 mm

Adults: June - October

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Thymelicus lineola

Fall in Toronto

Isabella Tiger Moth

The brightly banded caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth is usually seen in early fall as it wanders across trails and roads in search of safe place to overwinter. It goes by the apt name “Woolly bear” and it is a sure sign of impending cold weather.

Description: Caterpillar is the common "Woolly Bear" seen in late summer.

Scientific name: Pyrrharctia isabella

Fall in Toronto

Common Green Darner

Our largest common dragonfly, usually seen flying quite slowly and patrolling open meadows, hunting for wasps, butterflies and mosquitoes. Likes to perch vertically on tall wildflowers. Prior to fall migration, swarms at parks along the waterfront.

Description: Thorax is green. Adult males have a bright blue abdomen; females and immature males have a brown abdomen. Up close the face has a distinctive pattern.

Habitat: Ponds, slow-moving streams, meadows.

Wingspan: 100 mm

Adults: April - October

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Anax junius

Fall in Toronto

Canada Goldenrod

Small yellow flowers are clustered along arching branches in a showy late summer display. Must be cross-pollinated by insects to produce its seed-like "achenes" which are wind dispersed. Pollinators include honeybees, bumblebees, soldier beetles, and hoverflies. Forms large colonies from rhizomes. An important food source for many birds and mammals. Round swellings on stems indicate parasitism by Gall Flies (Eurosta solidaginis).

Description: Perennial plant. Bright yellow mass of flowers actually many small flowerheads, each of which in turn is composed of disk and ray flowers. The plumes tend to droop in an arch. Flowers in late-summer.

Habitat: Widespread in disturbed areas, roadsides and meadows.

Height: 30 - 150 cm

Flowering: August - November

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Solidago canadensis

Fall in Toronto

Zig-zag Goldenrod

Stem zig-zags. Leaves broad. Prefers moist, shaded sites such as edges of swamps.

Description: In late september, in full flower. The following insects were flower-visitors: german wasp, bumblebee, honey bee, european paper wasp, native paper wasp, bald-faced hornet, potter wasp, big paper wasp sp. (photographed), solitary bee?, ant, hover fly, flesh fly, green bottlefly, locust borer.

Habitat: Swamp edge, open woodlands.

Height: 80 cm

Flowering: August - October

Scientific name: Solidago flexicaulis

Fall in Toronto

Blue-stem Goldenrod

One of the last of the goldenrods to flower. Flowers in small clusters in leaf axils all away along the stems. Leaf narrow and elongate.

Habitat: Open woodlands.

Height: 100 cm

Flowering: September - August

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Solidago caesia

Fall in Toronto

Lance-leaved Goldenrod

Often coexists with Canada goldenrod. Note the thin leaves.

Habitat: Swamp edge, roadside.

Height: 80 cm

Flowering: August - October

Scientific name: Solidago graminifolia

Fall in Toronto

Jerusalem Artichoke

Tall sunflower. Spreads by rhizomes and can form large clumps, especially in moist sites. The rhizomes or tubers can be eaten.

Habitat: Meadows, forest edge.

Height: 200 cm

Flowering: July - September

Scientific name: Helianthus tuberosus

Fall in Toronto

Woodland Sunflower

This native sunflower has a smooth stem and the leaves are very rough on the upper surface and soft and hairy on the underside.

Description: Stem smooth. Leaves very rough on upper surface, soft and hairy undersurface.

Habitat: Dry woods.

Height: 150 cm

Flowering: July - September

Scientific name: Helianthus divaricatus

Fall in Toronto

Butter-and-eggs

The Yellow Toadflax, also known as “butter-and-eggs”, was introduced into North America from Europe as an ornamental plant in the 1800s. An old name, "Rancid", refers to the toxic juice which makes it unsuitable as forage. Pollinated by larger bees strong enough to push past the lips. Pollination also reported by long-tongued butterflies and skipper butterflies.

Description: Tall, erect plant. Tall spike-like stems carry long-spurred flowers resembling snapdragons that are butter yellow with egg yolk orange "lips". Leaves grass-like. Small winged seeds are wind-dispersed. Underground rhizomes spread to form large colonies.

Habitat: Open, sunny areas such as roadsides, waste land.

Height: 50 cm

Flowering: July - October

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Linaria vulgaris

Fall in Toronto

Spotted Jewelweed

The tubular flowers open for two days and are visited by hummingbirds and bumblebees. Seed set depends on cross pollination. The fruit is a capsule which “explodes” when touched, ejecting the seeds several metres away from the plant.

Description: Luxuriant plant with thick, tubular stems which are hollow. Orange, tubular flowers have a pronounced nectary which can only be accessed by large long-tongued bees, and hummingbirds.

Habitat: Open woodland, moist sites such as streamsides.

Height: 150 cm

Flowering: August - September

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Impatiens capensis

Fall in Toronto

Pale Jewelweed

Pale yellow flowers with a nectary at the end which is generally smaller than spotted jewelweed, but holds the same amount and concentration of sugars. Requires cross pollination for seed set. In the fall, hummingbirds and bumblebees feed at the flowers.

Habitat: Woodland margins, stream edges.

Height: 100 cm

Flowering: July - August

Scientific name: Impatiens pallida

Fall in Toronto

Common Milkweed

By winter, the seedpod halves have dried grey and hard and resemble clam shells. Some still have fluffy seeds clinging to them. The plant stalk provides an overwintering site for larval stage of the Milkweed beetle.

Small, strongly-scented pink or purplish flowers with a complex structure are borne in rounded clusters. Large oblong leaves have fine down beneath. Thick milky juice with toxic properties flows from cuts in leaves and stems. Monarch butterfly larvae eat leaves but are immune to the toxins which make the larvae unpalatable to predators. Honeybees are the main pollinators, although other insects visit the flowers. Warty green pods contain brown seeds with silky "parachutes".

Description: The dried seedpods remain attached to the plant stalk through winter. Pods split open to expose hundreds of small brown seeds which have fluffy silky hairs at one end.

Description: Broken stem and stalks exude sticky, milky sap. are pink, borne in clusters and are fragrant, particularly in the evening. are large and olive green but they get wrinkled and grey as they age. Open a ripe seedpod and hundreds of seeds blow out and float away. Seeds are light brown and have fluffy silky hairs at one end.

Habitat: Open, sunny sites, particularly disturbed land, roadsides, old fields.

Height: 150 cm

Flowering: July - August

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Asclepias syriaca

Fall in Toronto

Queen Anne's Lace

In winter, the familiar white flat-topped umbel of summer dries into a seedhead with a basket-like arrangement. The feathery leaves at the base die back, leaving just the flowerstalk and seedhead. Seeds are eaten by wildlife.

One of the most abundant flowers of disturbed sites. The delicate flower heads consist of many tiny white flowers clustered in a flat-topped “umbel.” The central flower is often purple. Umbels are characteristic of plants in the carrot-parsley family, to which this species belongs. Seeds are eaten by wildlife. Several plants that closely resemble this one have poisonous alkaloids and are very dangerous to eat.

Description: As flowers age and become dry seedheads, the umbel becomes curled-up at the edges, and is said to resemble a bird's nest.

Description: Tall, robust plant with feathery leaves, characteristic of the Carrot Family. Flower is a cluster (umbel) of small white flowers delicately arranged in a flat-topped arrangement. As flowers age and become dry seedheads, the umbel becomes curled-up at the edges, and is said to resemble a bird's nest.

Habitat: Dry meadows, roadsides, abandoned, disturbed land.

Height: 30 - 100 cm

Flowering: July - September

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Daucus carota

Fall in Toronto

Chicory

The zig-zag stem is studded with the small dried remains of the flowers.

Chicory's beautiful blue flowers close by early afternoon. This plant is cultivated for its tap root which is roasted and ground for use as a coffee substitute, and as a flavour enhancer for some beers. Very young basal leaves are eaten raw in salads. Members of the chicory family are known for their milky and often bitter juices.

Description: Erect plant, sparsely leaved. The stem is zig-zaggy, giving the plant a gangly, somewhat straggly appearance. The basal leaves resemble those of Dandelion. A biennial, the second-year plant produces light blue flowers which have serrated ends to the petals.

Habitat: Open, sunny habitats, especially dry meadow, roadsides, waste areas.

Height: 30 - 100 cm

Flowering: June - October

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Cichorium intybus

Fall in Toronto

Wild Cucumber

Pending. The spiky fruits hang like ornaments from the trailing vines that clamber up and over edgeland vegetation.

White flowers. Vine.

Description: Pending. White flowers. Spiky fruit. Vine.

Habitat: Likes edge habitat, scrambling up shrubs.

Height: 200 cm

Flowering: July - August

Fruits: September - October

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Echinocystis lobata

Fall in Toronto

Purple Flowering Raspberry

A native shrub with beautiful leaves and rose-like flowers, which grows at the edges of woodlands. The flowers are packed with pollen and attract bees.

Description: Grows as a large bush, often in extensive clumps which form from rhizomes. The canes are not thorny. Older twigs (canes) shed their outer bark in curls which gives the canes an interesting texture. Bright green leaves shaped like maple leaf (hence alternate common name “flowering maple”). The pink flowers resemble rose flowers, and are packed with pollen. Fruit is small and not as fleshy as the edible raspberries.

Habitat: Moist woodlands. Prefers light shade, such as woodland edge.

Height: 2 m

Width: 2 m

Flowering: June - July

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Rubus odoratus

Fall in Toronto

Pasture Rose

Description: Woody, sprawling bush. Beautiful pink flower. delicate, compound leaves. Stems thorny.

Habitat: Prefers dry, poor soils. Forest edge.

Height: 200 cm

Flowering: June - July

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Rosa carolina

Fall in Toronto

Japanese Knotweed

Tall stalks with luxuriant foliage. Flowers are white and produced in spikes. Dies back in fall, and dried stalks remain standing through winter and resemble bamboo (a colloquial name is Canadian bamboo). A serious invasive plant of damp areas and woodland edge.

Description:

Habitat: Prefers swamps.

Height: 150 cm

Flowering: August - September

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Polygonum cuspidatum

Fall in Toronto

New England Aster

This tall leafy native plant makes a glorious fall display with clustered heads of deep violet-purple ray flowers surrounding a burnished yellow centre composed of disk flowers. Rays are occasionally pink. Stems are hairy with many lance-shaped leaves. Late summer asters are important sources of nectar for butterflies. Seeds are eaten by American Goldfinches as well as small rodents. Widely cultivated as an ornamental.

Description: Flowerhead is a composite of deep purple “ray” flowers and yellow “disk” flowers in the centre. Leaves are narrow and long, and alternate along the stem (not opposite one another). The leaf joins the stem at the base and there is no petiole.

Habitat: Open ground, meadows, but prefers moist disturbed areas.

Height: 30 - 180 cm

Flowering: August - October

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Aster novae-angliae

Fall in Toronto

Common Cattail

The "cat tail" of this unusual wetland plant is a flower head consisting of a spike of tiny light coloured male flowers above a fatter compact cylindrical spike of equally tiny female flowers--greenish at first, but turning brown after pollination. The male part falls off. Grows in dense stands. Cattail marshes are favourite nesting sites for red winged blackbirds, and provide cover for many wildlife species. Rootstocks are eaten by muskrats and geese.

Habitat: Marsh edges and shallows. Prefers lime-rich mineral soils. Widespread in marshes, roadside ditches, along shorelines, and in various moist areas.

Height: 200 cm

Flowering: July

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Typha spp.

Fall in Toronto

Common Reed

The introduced Common Reed colonizes wetlands and spreads rapidly, forming dense monocultures that exclude native plants and associated wildlife. It grows very tall and has large, attractive feathery-looking inflorescences borne at the tops of yellowish or tan-coloured stems. It is very similar in appearance to the native red-stemmed Common Reed (P. a. americanus) that grows as scattered plants in wetlands supporting diverse species. Both of these grasses occur along Great Lakes shorelines.

Habitat: Marshes, swales. Widespread in disturbed wet or moist sites such as ditches, but can take over a wetland with surprising rapidity.

Height: Up to 4m

Flowering: July - September

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Phragmites australis

Fall in Toronto

White Heath Aster

White flowers in dense sprays that look like goldenrod.

Habitat: Old field, dry meadow.

Height: 60 cm

Flowering: August - September

Scientific name: Aster ericoides

Fall in Toronto

Panicled Aster

The curly dead leaves at the base of the plant are distinctive. This plant is an important source of pollen and nectar for bees, wasps and flies because it is one of the last wildflowers to bloom in the fall.

Habitat: Meadows, roadsides, thickets. Prefers wet areas.

Height: 120 cm

Flowering: August - October

Scientific name: Symphyotrichum lanceolatum

Fall in Toronto

Purple Loosestrife

Two hundred years have passed since the first infestations of this highly invasive plant were reported in wetlands near developing ports in eastern North America, where ballast soil containing seeds was dumped. A prolific seed producer, dense stands with matted roots crowd out native wetland species and reduce biodiversity. Programs underway in Canada and the United States to control infestations.

Description: Tall herb with square stems that are reddish colour. This plant has showy pinkish-purple flowers clustered at intervals in long spike-like arrangements.

Habitat: Wetlands, particularly pond edges.

Height: 60 - 200 cm

Flowering: July - September

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Lythrum salicaria

Fall in Toronto

White Baneberry

Also called “Doll's eyes” for the distinctive white berries with black centre that are highly poisonous (hence the “bane” in the common name, alluding to its illness-producing attributes).

Description: Established baneberry plants can grow to a large spreading bush that is waist-high. Leaves are subdivided into leaflets which have toothed margins. The delicate flower will transform into the distinctive white berries with black centre.

Habitat: Rich, deciduous woodland.

Height: 50 cm

Flowering: May - June

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Actaea pachypoda

Fall in Toronto

Turtlehead

Creamy flowers in a cluster at the top of each stem have petals which resemble swollen “lips”, characteristic of the Snapdragon family to which it belongs.

Description: Creamy flowers in a cluster at the top of each stem have petals which resemble swollen "lips", characteristic of the Snapdragon family to which it belongs.

Habitat: Wet areas, particularly marshes and streambanks in open woodland.

Height: 200 cm

Flowering: August - October

Scientific name: Chelone glabra

Fall in Toronto

Jack-in-the-pulpit

This curious plant grows in moist, rich woodland soils. The light green spathe (the “pulpit”) partly encloses and covers the spadix (“Jack”) which is covered with tiny flowers.

Description: A relative of Skunk Cabbage. Light green spathe (can be striped) partly encloses and covers the spadix (“Jack”) which carries tiny flowers. Leaves eventually overtop the flower. By late summer, the plant may have a black seed cluster that turns red by fall.

Habitat: Moist areas in mature deciduous woodland.

Height: 40 cm

Flowering: May - June

Scientific name: Arisaema triphyllum

Fall in Toronto

Himalayan Balsam

Conspicuous in late summer in moist wooded areas especially. Considered a serious invading weed in southern Ontario because it forms dense clumps which can exclude native plants.

Habitat: Wet meadows, swamps.

Height: 200 cm.

Flowering: July - June

Scientific name: Impatiens glandulifera

Fall in Toronto

Red-osier Dogwood

The flat-topped flower clusters are a magnet for insect pollinators. Berries are eaten by songbirds in the fall. Twigs are flexible, and are used in basket weaving and floral arrangements.

Description: Dense, deciduous shrub. White flowers arranged in clusters at the end of stems. Leaves arranged in opposite pairs along the twig. Prominent veins curve and run towards the tip. Fruits are white berries. Young branches are deep red and are flecked with white.

Habitat: Prefers moist soils, especially the edges of swamps. Invades old fields.

Height: 2 m

Flowering: May - June

Fruits: July - August

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Cornus stolonifera

Fall in Toronto

White Oak

White oak was one of the giants of pre-settlement broadleaf forest in Toronto, reaching heights of up to 30 metres. Distinguished from other oaks here by its leaves which have rounded lobes and are smooth underneath. The acorns are sought after by squirrels.

Description: Large, deciduous tree with pale grey bark which has a scaly appearance. Leaf has 5 to 9 lobes which are rounded (not pointed). Both male and female flowers occur on the same tree (monoecious). The male flowers (pollen-producing) are yellow and open a little before female flowers in early May. The acorn is quite small (2 cm) and elongated, and the cap of woody scales covers less than one-quarter of the acorn. The acorn develops over summer and ripens in the Fall.

Habitat: Prefers deep, moist soils in mixed deciduous forests.

Height: 30 m

Leaf length: 12 cm

Flowering: May

Fruits: August

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Quercus alba

Fall in Toronto

Tartarian Honeysuckle

One of several introduced honeysuckles which grow as shrubs in fields and forest edges where they are considered serious invasive plants in southern Ontario because it spreads rapidly, helped by birds such as American Robins, which eat the fruit and disperse the seeds widely.

Description: Large shrub which can grow into thickets. Flowers are tubular and the petal colour varies from white through pink. The flowers are very fragrant. The dark red berries ripen in Fall.

Habitat: Woodland edges, old fields. Invasive.

Height: 3 m

Flowering: May - June

Fruits: August - September

Origin: Introduced

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Lonicera tatarica

Fall in Toronto

Virginia Creeper

A common vine with a characteristic leaf composed of five leaflets with toothed margins.

Description: Pending. Vine grows up trees and structures by way of suction cups and tendrils.

Habitat: Often grows in edge habitats in association with Wild Grape.

Width: 10 m

Flowering: June - July

Fruits: September - October

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Fall in Toronto

Riverbank Grape

Pending. Songbirds on southward migration in Fall feed on the grapes. Raccoons also favour them as food.

Description: Large, characteristic grape leaves on sturdy stem which can become woody. Has tendrils which help it attach to vegetation. Grows up trees and can form dense blankets. Flowers are tiny, green-yellow in clusters and result in small black berries.

Habitat: Edge habitats, especially moist areas such as stream banks.

Length: 10 m

Flowering: June

Fruits: September

Origin: Native

Scientific name: Vitis riparia

Fall in Toronto

Black Walnut

The compound leaf is composed of many (15-23) leaflets. If you crush a fresh leaf you can smell a distinctive musky odour.

Description:

Height: 30 m

Flowering: June

Fruits: August

Scientific name: Juglans nigra

Fall in Toronto

Flowering Crabapple

Trees can be smothered in flowers in spring. Flower visitors include bees, and some birds notably Baltimore Orioles but also House Sparrows. The small red fruits often persist on the tree through winter and provide food for European Starlings, American Robins and Cedar Waxwings.

Description: Small to medium sized trees with reddish brown bark which becomes scaley in older trees. Flowers in May, for about two weeks. Depending on the variety, flower colour ranges from white through light pink to red. Fruit are small (10-20 mm) red apples which ripen in the Fall. Fruit can stay on the tree through winter.

Habitat: Gardens, parks. Naturalized in woodland areas.

Height: 4 m

Flowering: May

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Malus baccata

Fall in Toronto

Wild Apple

Pending.

Description: pending

Habitat:

Height: 7 m

Flowering: June

Fruits: September

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Malus sylvestris

Fall in Toronto

Common Buckthorn

An introduced species which is a serious invasive shrub in southern Ontario because they form dense clumps which exclude native species. Buckthorns reproduce by seed and by root suckers. They are an alternate host for the fungus, crown rust, which is a bright orange fungus that colonizes buckthorn leaves. It also colonizes cereal crops such as oats, so buckthorn control in farmland is important.

Habitat:

Height: 5 m

Flowering: May - June

Fruits: - October

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Rhamnus catharcticus

Fall in Toronto

European Mountain-Ash

This European import is a popular ornamental tree because it attains a modest height and sports spectacular fruit in the Fall. The orange berries persist into the winter and are eaten by American Robins and Cedar Waxwings. Also known by its old English name of Rowan tree.

Description: Medium-sized tree with compound leaves consisting of up to 17 leaflets. Flowers are creamy clusters. The fruit consists of clusters of orange berries.

Habitat: Planted as an ornamental in parks, front yards. Has become naturalized.

Height: 15 m

Flowering: May - June

Fruits: September - December

Origin: Introduced

Scientific name: Sorbus aucuparia

Fall in Toronto

Witch-Hazel

Leaf is round or oval, with a distinctly “lop-sided” base. Flowers in late fall from October to December, often after most leaves have dropped. The delicate yellow flowers are pollinated by a winter moth which is active at temperatures as low as 28F.

Description: Leaf is round or oval, with a distinctly “lop-sided” base. Leaf length: 8-12 cm long. A small understorey tree which prefers moist conditions such as along streams. Slow-growing. Flowers in late fall from October to December, often after most leaves have dropped. The delicate yellow flowers are pollinated by a winter moth which is active at temperatures as low as 28F.

Height: 7 m

Leaf length: 8-12 cm

Flowering: September

Fruits: November

Scientific name: Hamamelis virginiana

Fall in Toronto

Staghorn Sumac

Description: The twigs and young branches are covered with soft hairs which resemble the velvet stage of deer antlers. The fern-like leaves turn bright reds and oranges in the fall. Often form large groves, as they spread readily by suckers (rhizomes). Broken twigs or leaves exude a milky sap.

Habitat:

Height: 7 m

Flowering: June

Scientific name: Rhus typhina

Fall in Toronto

Shaggy Mane

This edible mushroom is easy to identify by the “scales” on its cap, which give rise to its other name, “lawyer's wig.” It grows singly or in groups on lawns, woodchips, or hard-packed ground on the side of trails.

Description: This edible mushroom is easy to identify by the “scales” on its cap, which give rise to its other name, “lawyer's wig.” It grows singly or in groups on lawns, woodchips, or hard- packed ground on the side of trails. It has even been reported to break through asphalt!

Habitat:

Height: 10 cm

Scientific name: Coprinus comatus

Fall in Toronto

Common Stinkhorn

Stinkhorns are foul-smelling mushrooms typical of late summer and fall. The cap is covered by a dark, slimy, spore mass. Its smell attracts flies that land on the slime and then disperse the spores.

Habitat: Woodland, gardens, meadows.

Scientific name: Phallus impudicus

Fall in Toronto

Turkey Tail

Scientific name: Trametes versicolor

Fall in Toronto

Dryad's Saddle

Habitat:

Scientific name: Polyporus squamosus

Fall in Toronto

About this guide

This mobile web app guide to common Fall plants and animals of Toronto has been created and produced by Hopscotch Interactive.

At Hopscotch, Alejandro Lynch and Mike Dennison have spearheaded the development, design and production of the guide. Artwork and design has been contributed by Hugo Lynch. Research and writing contributions from Irene Bowman.

Creative Commons License

The text of this work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Permission to use some images in the guide has been kindly given by Ian Craine.

Please send any feedback or questions about the guide to Mike Dennison, dennison@hopscotch.ca.

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