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Meet Your Coastal Rainforest Friends!

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These notecards will introduce you to three groups of coastal rainforest plant life:

berry-bearing shrubs ferns & trees

Taking Care of the Forest The Young Naturalists’ Motto is “Observe and Conserve.” When visiting natural spaces, practise respect and care: • Walk quietly; you will see more wildlife. • Stay on designated trails at all times. • Leave everything as you found it.

How many of these are living in a forest near you? These cards are organized into families. Read the first card of each family group, then take a look at some of the family members. Can you find them?

Note on Respecting Parks Everything you find in a park is either food or shelter for something else. Do not remove things from parks - in many parks, it is actually illegal to do so.

are important things to The 10 Essentials

carry with you when outdoors. In an emergency situation, they could save your life! For more information please visit: Flashlight Extra clothes Whistle Pocket knife Fire starter First aid kit Extra food and water Navigation (GPS or map) Communications (charged cell phone) Shelter and/or rain cape (big, bright plastic garbage bags work fine)

Note on the definition of ‘family’ We define “family” as “any group of individuals closely related to each other.” We are not using the taxonomic definition of Family.

Note on Latin names of species Each species has two words in its Latin name. The first word is the genus and the second word is the species. For example: the Latin name for Thimbleberry is

Rubus parviflorus.

Living organisms that are the same species can breed with each other and produce babies that are eventually capable of breeding themselves. Living organisms that are the same genus share similar characteristics, such as having aggregate berries (the Rubus genus).

Friends of the family All living things in a particular habitat or ecosystem are connected. They can be linked by food, shelter, or shared space. The Friends of the Family cards highlight some of these connections.

Invasive species Invasive species are plants or animals that humans brought from far away that cause harm to the ecosystem. They may have been brought here on purpose for crops or garden plants, or by accident, attached to other cargos. By competing with native species for food, water, shelter, and space they cause big problems in ecosystems.

Legend Information pages

Invasive Species!!!

Fern Family

Friend of the Family

Berry Family

Look for this!

Tree Family

The Berry Family

The Rubus family has



This means their berries are made of many smaller berries! There are

If you like to eat raspberries or blackberries, you have already eaten

a member of the Rubus


hundreds of members of

the Rubus family.

We have chosen 4 to show you.

The leaves are very soft to the touch due to the tiny hairs on either side.

Thimbleberry Rubus parviflorus

Photo by


gm Walter Si

Thimbleberry is sometimes called ‘nature’s toilet paper’, due to its incredibly soft leaves. The berries are edible, but very seedy. They were often dried then eaten by First Nations people.

A thimbleberry can fit over your finger like a thimble.

Salmonberry Rubus spectabilis

Photo by D

awn Hanna

Rufous Hummingbirds migrate north annually by following the blooms of salmonberry bushes. When you see the flowers start to appear in the spring, look for hummingbirds!

If you cover the top leaf, the bottom 2 look like a butterfly.

The berries can be yellow, orange, or pink-red.

Trailing Blackberry

The leaflets are in groups of three.

Rubus ursinus

Photo by D

awn Hanna

Trailing blackberries are delicious – raccoons, squirrels, and even banana slugs love to eat them. This is the only native species of blackberry found in this area.

Trailing blackberry can’t hold itself up, so it stays close to the ground.

Himalayan Blackberry Rubus armeniacus

ng County

Photo by Ki

invasi species! ve !!

Himalayan blackberry can grow up to 10 metres in a year and produce up to 13,000 seeds in just one square metre! Even if only 1% of them sprout, that means there will be over 100 new blackberry plants. By growing and reproducing rapidly, it can squeeze out native species.

The berries are delicious - if you’re out in the summer, try one! Just be very careful to identify it properly - not all types of wild berry are edible. Ask an adult to make sure.

Himalayan blackberry grows in dense thickets.

The leaflets grow in clusters of 5.

Cedar Waxwing ily f the fam o d n frie

Photo by

Mike Pazz


Bombycilla cedrorum

Cedar waxwings are found in the Lower Mainland year-round, but they are easier to spot in the summer when they’re eating berries. By ingesting the fruit and depositing their seeds in different parts of the forest, birds such as cedar waxwings help Rubus species to spread to new areas.

Known for the orange crest and black mask on their head.

Cedar waxwings in particular have evolved the amazing ability to eat the berries, seeds and all – they do not have to spit them out.

Red wing tips.

The Fern Family

The fern family is known to scientists as “pteridophyta.�

over 12,000 species

There are worldwide and they have existed since before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Ferns do not have seeds. Instead, they have

spores located under their

leaves, in clusters called sori.

The different species can be very difficult to tell apart.

Spiny Wood Fern

Spiny wood fern leaves are among the most intricate of coastal rainforest ferns.

Dryopteris expansa

Spiny wood fern likes wet soil on the forest floor. Look for it under the canopy of evergreens, where the branches blocking the sun help the soil to stay moist. Photo by

Dawn H


These spots on the back of the leaves are sori!

Licorice Fern

Polypodium glycyrrhiza

nd Fryer

y Raymo

Photo b

This unique fern is often seen on the mossy bark of maple trees. It gets all the nutrients it needs from the rain and air, so it does not harm what it’s living on - whether a maple tree, rock, or rotting log.

The rhizome, an underground stem, tastes like licorice!

The roots were used as a remedy for colds and sore throats by local First Nations people.

Grows only on mossy rocks or branches.

Sword Fern

Polystichum munitum

Photo by

Dawn H


These orange spots on the back of the leaves are sori!

Sword fern is one of the most common ferns in the Lower Mainland. Look for the “hilt” on the leaflets, just like a sword! The “hilt”

The “hilt” of the Sword fern

Deer Fern

Blechnum spicant


Photo by Raymond Frye

This fern is a favourite with many people - a great way to incorporate native plants into your garden.

Rounded leaves

Deer fern is an important winter food source for - you guessed it - deer!

Banana Slug ily f the fam o d n frie

Photo by



Ariolimax columbianus

Ferns would not be spread as widely as they are without the help of the banana slug. The slug’s slime transports spores across the forest, helping new ferns to grow. But don’t worry - these aren’t the slugs you find in gardens eating your vegetables. Those slugs are usually invasive species.

Try saying this 3 times fast: “Banana slugs are a spore spreading species!” Pacific banana slugs are the second largest land slugs in the world, growing up to 25 cm! They are dark yellow or green, sometimes with brown splotches – much like a real banana.

The Tree Family

There are lots of trees in a

temperate rainforest!

But don’t let the wall of green discourage you. Luckily, there aren’t that many different


Once you can tell these ones apart,

you will be able to identify the

majority of the conifers

in BC’s Lower Mainland forests!

Western Hemlock

Needles are different lengths.

Tsuga heterophylla

Droopy top

Photo by

Wing-Ch i


Hemlocks are able to grow on top of rotting stumps and logs. Their roots help to break up the rotting wood and turn it into soil, which other plants can use.

The cones are usually only a couple of centimeters long.

Western Redcedar Thuja plicata

Photo by Leah Grunske

This tree is very important to First Nations people. They use the bark, wood, and roots to make canoes, totem poles, clothing, hats, baskets, ropes, masks, buildings, and more! Look for redcedar in wet or damp areas.

Western redcedar is known for its distinctive swooping branches.

Flat, scaly needles

Douglas Fir

Pseudotsuga menziesii

Photo by



The thick, grooved bark of the Douglas fir provides a great home for banana slugs, spiders, sow bugs (isopods), ants, and even little brown bats. Since the bark of a Douglas fir can be up to 30 cm thick, it is also able to survive forest fires better than many other trees.

Cones have “mice� inside them, according to legend.

Bigleaf Maple

Recognize this shape from a flag?

Acer macrophyllum


e Sm Photo by Mik

These trees are well named; the leaves are often 30 cm across, but can be up to 60 cm! Bigleaf maple is important to many wildlife species, from bees that sip its flower nectar, to squirrels that eat the seeds, to beavers that munch the leaves.

These are the seed pods that “helicopter� down to the ground.

Photo b

y Dawn

Bigleaf maples often have moss, lichen, and licorice fern growing on their bark and branches.


ve invasi !!! species

Photo by Raymond Fryer

English Holly Ilex aquifolium

People brought this invasive tree to BC because they like the Christmas-red berries. Unfortunately, some birds like them too! They spread the seeds to new areas when they eat the berries. Don’t mix this up with Oregon grape, a native shrub with similar leaves. Oregon grape has yellow flowers and dark blue berries.

TIP: If you have holly in your house for Christmas, don’t compost it. Regular household compost won’t kill the seeds, and new holly trees could grow from wherever the compost is spread.

ve invasi !!! species

Red-breasted Sapsucker ily f the fam o d n frie

Photo by

Dan Dzu


Sapsucker holes in hemlock bark.

Sphyrapicus ruber

Trees have many friends and connections in the forest. Grids of holes (like a cribbage board) in the bark of trees are drilled by the red-breasted sapsucker. Insects come to feed on the sweet sap. Then the sapsucker comes back to feed on both the insects and the sap! What a smart strategy.

Photo by Raymond Fryer

Now it’s your turn! There are endless family groups that can be created by observing different things in the rainforest. Use the suggestions in the next few cards to start creating your own groupings.

Draw a plant that is growing in an interesting place. Are there other ones nearby?

Draw a picture or write about something you can hear. Do other things make similar sounds?

Pick something up off the ground. Draw it or describe it. Where did it come from?

Find something that is high up in the trees. Are there other living things up there?

Dig into some soft soil. Did you find anything alive? What else is down there? Be careful not to kill anything.

1620 Mt. Seymour Rd. North Vancouver, BC V7G 2R9 Acknowledgements: Lauren Krakau (content development), Azalea Moen (design and illustration), VSB TREK students (ground truthing), with contributions from Daphne Solecki, Kristine Webber, Dawn Hanna and Ruth Foster This project was made possible through the generous support of: BC Parks Enhancement Fund, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

Meet Your Coastal Rainforest Friends  
Meet Your Coastal Rainforest Friends  

28 colourful cards to help children and families explore the coastal rainforest.