Spongy carpets of green mosses and sage-coloured lichens carry out the vital process of soil formation. This enables higher plants to grow on the Park's granitic outcroppings. By holding moisture, chemically eroding the rocks and trapping air-borne material, mosses and lichens accumulate "soil" over many years, and the lives of the plants and animals of the coastal bluff ecosystem depend on them.
Beds of mosses and lichens become nurseries for various plants, most of which are unique and adapted to thin soil, rapid drainage, periods of drought, and even exposure to salt-spray. White fawn lily, sea blush and rust-coloured saxifrage are a few of the wild flower species found on sunny cliffs. Disturbance by foot traffic can, in minutes, destroy their habitat which has taken decades to develop.
RUST-COLOURED SAXIFRAGE Saxifraga ferruginea
This fragile plant with white, hairy flowers roots in rock crevices.
YELLOW RUMPED WARBLER Dendroica coronata
Warblers arrive in late April to spend summer feasting on insects.
DEATH CAMAS Zygadenus venenosus
Both the leaves and underground bulb of this species are poisonous.
ARBUTUS OR PACIFIC MADRONE Arbutus menziesii
This is Canada's only native broadleaf evergreen tree.
WHITE CROWNED SPARROW Zonotrichia leucophrys
Females choose the nest site and take up to 9 days to build a nest. Males help by feeding the young.
NORTHERN ALLIGATOR LIZARD Elgaria coerulea
Females give birth to fully formed young lizards in late summer.
COMMON GARTER SNAKE Thamnophis sirtalis
The common garter snake hides among the grasses and shrubs of the rocky bluffs close to the sea. Fish trapped in tide pools are easy prey for this strong swimmer.
NOOTKA ROSE Rosa nutkana
The fragrant pink flowers give way to bright red fruits (hips) that are edible and high in vitamin C.
KINNIKINNICK Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
This trailing evergreen shrub is widespread, found from sea-level bluffs to mountaintop alpine meadows.
LICORICE FERN Polypodium glycyrrhiza
Growing on the calcium-rich bark of broadleaf maple trees and exposed rock faces, this fern's underground stem has a licorice flavour.
SEA BLUSH Plectritis congesta
In May, undisturbed bluffs often boast carpets of sea blush.