Sylvania Wilderness Area

Sylvania's magnificent trees & unusual plants
The flora here in Sylvania are also interesting. The trees of this climax forest are yellow birch, eastern hemlock, and sugar maple. They can live for hundreds of years here, protected from high winds. No damaging fire or storm seems to have occurred for many centuries. Undisturbed environments like these, with rotting logs and decaying leaf debris, suit mushrooms. The quantity of dead wood makes this ideal habitat for pileated woodpeckers, the largest of all woodpeckers.

Wildflowers, too, thrive at Sylvania, including lady's slippers that take years to reach blooming age. Many of the smaller of Sylvania's 36 lakes have bogs or encircling sphagnum mats with wildly varying plant associations, depending on the water's acidity level and the source of seeds that have become established there. These may include legally protected orchids and insect-eating pitcher plants as well as the leatherleaf common in acidic bogs. At the Visitor Center you can pick up free full-color brochures on wildflowers and ferns of the Ottawa National Forest.

Some water bodies have become entirely covered over by sphagnum mats, turning into muskegs. These mats are best seen from a canoe or kayak. A footstep on these thin and fragile mats can destroy years of growth. People can fall through them, too.

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Sylvania Wilderness Details