Native Trees of Ontario
What is a Native Tree?
Ontario has three forest regions; the northern Boreal Forest, the Great lakes - St. Lawrence Forest (in which the Arboretum is found), and the Southern Deciduous Forest. Within these forest regions there are approximately 85 native tree species.
A wide spectrum of tree species were available to meet the various needs of the early settlers as they began the development of family life in what would soon become Canada. Wood was the substance of the homes, shelter for livestock, tools, furniture, for cooking, and for warmth in winter. Native nut trees supplied a variety of snacks around the kitchen stove during the long winter evenings. Trees were crucial to early settler life, and they are equally vital to us now - an indispensable link in the Web of Life on this Earth of ours.
A native tree of Ontario is any tree species that was found in this province before the initial settlement of Europeans. Our Native Trees of Ontario Collection also contains some naturalized trees. These are species that were brought from Europe and Asia by European settlers and have invaded natural areas so as to now be found in many parts of the province.
The current Native Trees of Ontario Collection was originally based on a list of some 85 species compiled by Dennis Joyce and Brad Graham in 1994. The list was enhanced to include all species covered by the Tree Atlas project in a attempt to recognize that a number of species have been introduced since the pre-settlement forest was described. Aside from the discovery of 4 native woody plant species over the last 30 years, more than 35 exotic woody plant species have been naturalized in Ontario.