South St. Marys Island, layered with tons of rock and debris during canal construction, has since developed a thin cover of soil where plant life has become re-established. Hike the Attikamek trail, located across the lock gates on South St. Marys Island and witness this flora comeback.
Change can produce unexpected results. Where the landscape has been disturbed, different plants better adapted to the new light, moisture and soil conditions moved in. They bring with them a range of animals and insects that favour these plants for food, shelter or protection.
The umbrella-shaped blooms of small white flowers identify the Yarrow plant, once used by the Ojibwe as a medicinal poultice. Thrown upon coals to produce smoke, it was also inhaled to break a fever. Close to the ground, the Common Strawberry flourishes, providing summer snacks for a host of small animals. On the wind, you'll catch the sweet and soothing scent of the Balsam Poplar trees that are the favourite harvest of the local beaver population.
Cranberry, chokecherry, hawthorn and other fruit-bearing shrubs which border the trail, provide food and protection for the birds, small animals and insects which thrive in this rural oasis. Bristling with 2.8 cm thorns, the hawthorns often conceal the nests of birds taking advantage of the natural armament to discourage predation of their eggs and young.