Stone Road Alvar
Landowners: Nature Conservancy of Canada (100 hectares), Ontario Nature (42 hectares), Essex Region Conservation Authority (36.4 hectares)
The Stone Road Alvar on Pelee Island is designated as a provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). The site is a globally unique limestone plain or alvar not represented elsewhere in Ontario and is separated from other limestone plains in the Great Lakes basin by several hundred miles. Over 50 provincially rare plant species have been recorded at Stone Road Alvar, making it one of the most botanically significant sites in Ontario.
A truly outstanding array of rare habitats and species is packed into Stone Road Alvar, a property of Oak-Hickory woodland, Oak savannah, Red Cedar savannah, old-field thicket, prairie, and open alvar communities. It can be safely said that this mix of communities occurs nowhere else in Canada or in any of the adjacent U.S. states.
Alvar is an Estonian word that describes a limestone plain covered with scattered vegetation that endures extreme wet and dry conditions. Alvars have their own unique flora that take advantage of the extreme variations in moisture and the highly calcified soil and bedrock openings.
Most of the open area is characterized by scattered shrubs and limestone outcroppings. Here, visitors may find small elusive plants such as Conobea, Smaller Skullcap, False Pennyroyal, and Narrow-leafed Vervain. From late July to early September, all the open areas are ablaze with the yellow of Gray-headed Coneflower, the purple of Nodding Wild Onion and, recently, clusters of the white of Whorled Milkweed.
The scattered oaks are predominantly Chinquapin which, despite their stunted appearance, are often well over 100 years old. On the open savannahs, visitors can find Red Cedar and the provincially rare Hop tree as well as Blue Ash. Of special note is the local abundance of Downy Wood Mint, a plant that in Canada is confined to Pelee Island.
In the open Oak-Hickory woodlands near the road, visitors may find Miami Mist, a rare member of the waterleaf family, blooming in profusion in late May. The reserves have several plant species that occur nowhere else in Canada such as: Corn Salad, Yellow Horse Gentian, and Leavenworth's Sedge.
Stone Road Alvar is also prime habitat for the endangered Blue Racer Snake. As well, five rare butterflies occur quite commonly at Stone Road - the spectacular Giant Swallowtail, the Tawny Emperor, Acadian Hairstreak, Hackberry Butterfly, and Sachem Skipper. Carolinian bird species such as the yellow-breasted Chat and the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher enjoy the property's dense thickets.