The Lakeside Daisy (Tetraneuris herbacea), also called Manitoulin Gold, is a small perennial plant in the aster family. It reaches up to 35 cm tall, has dark green, toothless leaves surrounding the base of the plant, and produces between one and ten flowering stems, each with a single daisy-like yellow flower.
So why do we care about it?
About 95 % of the world’s population occurs in Ontario, in only 38 locations on the Bruce Peninsula and Southern Manitoulin Island. It only grows on alvar pavements and alvar grasslands. Alvars are areas of exposed limestone bedrock with little or no soil. They have very harsh environmental conditions, often with alternating flooding and drought. Relatively few species can survive there, but Lakeside Daisy is perfectly adapted to these conditions. For example, it has thick, rubbery leaves that can store water and help the plant survive dry spells.
Unfortunately, Lakeside Daisy is listed as “threatened.” This means that the plant is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors that threaten it.
Habitat destruction, particularly in the form of limestone quarrying and rural development, is one of the threats faced by Lakeside Daisy. The plant can be easily damaged or trampled by hikers and off-road vehicles, and this presents a significant threat, particularly to the Bruce Peninsula populations, which tend to be located in popular hiking spots. Invasive species, such as St. John’s Wort and Canada Bluegrass, also threaten to outcompete Lakeside Daisy for nutrients, moisture, and rooting space.
Lakeside Daisy is currently protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act (2007). It is illegal to collect, kill, buy or sell the plant. Additionally, most of the Ontario populations occur on protected public land, such as Bruce Peninsula National Park and Misery Bay Provincial Nature Reserve.
Ontario’s recovery strategy for Lakeside Daisy focuses on protecting existing alvars and allowing natural processes to take place. Several key alvars have been protected after being acquired by private land trusts or being incorporated into provincial or national parks.
Surveys, inventories, and mapping of alvar vegetation on the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island have been undertaken by the Province, two First Nations, and the International Alvar Conservation Initiative (IACI). The IACI have also been involved in public consultation, producing alvar stewardship packages for landowners and consulting with the aggregate industry. This has resulted in increased awareness of Lakeside Daisy and alvar habitats.
Overall, the recovery strategy looks promising, although the report identifies important knowledge gaps such as the role of fire and the effects of climate change on Lakeside Daisy. It recommends monitoring for 10 years to observe population trends.