Protecting and enhancing the natural values of Salt Spring Island and its surrounding waters


Rare Ecosystems

>Rare Ecosystems

American Glasswort and Sea-milkwort

Estuary Marsh [Red-Listed] With the exception of eelgrass, this plant community occurs at the lowest elevation band in estuaries where there is tidal flooding. The only other plants tough enough to share this salty environment, seashore saltgrass and Lyngbye’s sedge, intermix before forming their own dominant communities


Lyngbye’s Sedge and Herbaceous Vegetation

Estuary Marsh [Red-Listed] This sedge dominated association grows where there are fluctuations in brackish water on tidal flats and channel margins. Lyngbye’s sedge often occurs in dense pure stands, although some sites have Pacific silverweed, seacoast bulrush, and Douglas’ aster. Examples are rare on Salt Spring only occuring


Seashore Saltgrass and Herbaceous Plants

Estuary Marsh [Blue-Listed] This rare estuary marshland is dominated by seashore saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) with few other plants tolerant of the salinity from frequent tidal floodings. It occurs on Salt Spring Island in shallow lagoons and bays enclosed by sand spits behind Jack Foster Beach and along Booth


Dune Wildrye and Beach Pea

Beach [Red-Listed] Although this is one of the rarest plant associations found on Salt Spring Island (there is less than four hundred square meters), it is also one of the easiest to observe as it occurs along the road edge at the head of Fulford Harbour. Anyone who


Macoun’s Meadow-foam and Montia

Vernal Pools & Seeps [Red-Listed] Coastal bluff and outcrop seepages form rare openings within our coastal Douglas-fir forests. When they are occupied by Macoun’s meadow-foam, montia, tiny mousetail, and various native clovers, they become even more significant. Found on Salt Spring Island only at Ruckle Provincial Park. Photo


Wallace’s Selaginella and Reindeer Lichens

Rock Outcrop[Red-Listed] A sparsely vegetated community dominated by mosses and lichens, primarily maritime reindeer (Cladonia portentosa) and restricted to rock outcrops along the coast. It occurs on Salt Spring at Ruckle Park and upland sites on Mt. Tuam and Maxwell. Growing on a thin layer of soil


Roemer’s Fescue and Junegrass

Grassland [Red-Listed] This rare plant association first described from the Sooke Hills, consists of two native perennial bunchgrasses: Roemer’s fescue and junegrass. Other characteristic species of these hot, south-facing slopes include Lemmon’s needlegrass, short-stemmed sedge, death camas and California oatgrass. Found on Salt Spring Island in small patches


Arbutus and Hairy Manzanita

Dry Broadleaf Forest [Red-Listed] This ridge-crest community is characterized by dense thickets of manzanita with scattered arbutus, lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir. Its tendency to occur at scenic viewpoints means it often has to compete with real estate development. Luckily many sites are protected in regional and provincial parks. Growing


Garry Oak and Arbutus

Dry Broadleaf Forest [Red-Listed] Among the three Garry oak associations classified by the province, this one often occurs along the edges and ridges of oak stands along the transition to Douglas-fir forest. Excellent examples are found on Salt Spring at all the places where contiguous woodlands of Garry oak


Garry Oak and California Brome

Dry Broadleaf Forest [Red-Listed] This rare oak community grows on slopes where there are typically deeper soils and the trees are able to reach impressive stature. California brome is found at some of these sites but the more common grasses and sedges include blue wildrye, oatgrass and long-stoloned sedge.