Trees & Shrubs
Balsam Fir -- The best-smelling tree in the provinces must be the mighty balsam fir, whose tips are sometimes harvested to fabricate aromatic Christmas-tree wreaths. They're most common in Newfoundland but are also found in pockets of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It's sometimes hard to tell a fir from a spruce or hemlock, though the balsam's flat paddlelike needles (white underneath) are unique -- only a hemlock's are similar. Pull one off the twig to be sure; a fir's needle comes off clean, a hemlock's ragged. Still not sure you've got a fir tree on your hands? The long, glossy, almost purplish cones are absolutely distinctive. You can find tree farms around the Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, area.
Lowbush Blueberry -- Canada is the world's largest producer of wild blueberries, officially known as lowbush blueberries, cultivating nearly $70 million worth annually. With shrubby, tealike leaves and thick twigs, the plants lie low on exposed rocks on sunny hillsides, or sometimes crop up in shady woods; most of the year, the berries are inconspicuous and trail harmlessly underfoot. Come late summer, however, they're suddenly very popular -- for bears as well as people. The wild berries ripen slowly in the sun (look behind and beneath leaves for the best bunches) and make for great eating off the bush, pancake baking, or jam making.
Red and Sugar Maple -- These two maple trees look vaguely alike when turning color in fall, but they're actually quite different, from the shapes of their leaves to the habitats they prefer. Red maples have skinny, gray trunks and like a swampy or wet area; often, several of the slim trunks grow together into a clump, and in fall the red maples' pointy leaves turn a brilliant scarlet color almost at once. Sugar maples, on the other hand, are stout-trunked trees with lovely, substantial leaves (marked with distinctive U-shaped notches), which autumn slowly changes to red and flame-orange. Sugar maples grow in or at the edges of mixed forests, often in combination with birch trees, oak trees, beech trees, and hemlocks. Their sap, of course, is collected and boiled down to make delicious maple syrup -- big business in eastern Canada.
Red and White Pine -- These pines grow in sandy soils and like some (or a lot of) sunlight. The eastern white pine is the familiar "King's pine" once prevalent throughout the northeast portions of North America; you can recognize it by its very long, strong needles that are always arranged five to a clump, like a hand's fingers. Its trunk was prized for the masts of ships of war in the 16th to 19th centuries, and countless huge pines were floated down Canadian rivers by logger men. Sadly, old-growth white pines are virtually nonexistent today, but you can still find the tree throughout eastern Canada. The red pine, not so common, can be distinguished by its pairs of needles and pitchy trunk; it grows on PEI (where it loves the sandy soil), but also in parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.