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Book Review - Vascular Plants of the Bruce Peninsula by Joe Johnson

The Vascular Plants of the Bruce Peninsula is the remarkable life’s work of Joe Johnson, professional biologist and nature lover.

While Joe Johnson was raised and educated as a biologist in Nova Scotia, he spent the majority of his working life in Wiarton, Ontario. For more than 40 years he travelled the breadth of the area both on a professional basis as a contract biologist, and as an observer of one of Canada’s richest plant areas.

While the Bruce Peninsula has achieved much fame for the variety and especially, in a number of cases, the rarity of its plant life, this book is especially detailed in describing the occurrence of its rare plants and why they are here. In total some 1,369 plants or complexes are detailed, including their degree of occurrence, geographical range or limits on the peninsula, habitats etc. He is also clear to explain which species do not make the list. This is a serious work!

Mr. Johnson explains why this rich variety occurs here: mainly the fact that the Bruce is alkaline based as well as the unique convergence of the Lake Huron fringe flora to the west with the Niagara Escarpment flora to the east. While the book includes less than 140 colour photographs of 92 mentioned plants, one would imagine readers would like to see more.

This is clearly a scholarly work which Johnson makes clear, is based not just on his own observations, but also those of the naturalist (especially botanist) community who have gone before him and continue to the present. This book then is the comprehensive source for vascular plants of this remarkable small slice of Canada. It should be in the library of academic/professional biologists and botanists who study the area and the plants found here and should be treasured by amateur naturalists and environmentalists who have fallen in love with “the Bruce” as so many now refer to it.

Joe Johnson moved back to his beloved Nova Scotia in 2016 but remains a member of our Peninsula Club and we salute him on this marvelous book.

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