The forest of Lighthouse Park is composed mostly of cone-bearing Western Hemlock trees, with an average age of 100 years. However, because the park's forest was never logged, many of the dominant canopy species are veteran Douglas-firs and Western red-cedars around five hundred years old, and can be described as "old-growth". Amidst these are snags of dead standing trees, which give protection to cavity nesting birds and small mammals.
Wind-blown tree trunks rotting on the forest floor nurture new saplings of western hemlock, shrubs like red huckleberry, and various ferns. Needles, leaves and woody debris blanket the forest floor and with the help of decomposing fungi are converted to nutrients for the plants. Species richness or biodiversity increases slowly over time, thus older forests tend to support more niches than any other terrestrial ecosystem.
WESTERN SWORD FERN Polystichum munitum
Like all ferns, the mature plant produces spores. Each spore grows into an algal-like plant, which produces sperm and eggs. Flagellated sperm swim to the egg, and the fertilized egg grows into the recognizable fern plant.
DOUGLAS-FIR Pseudotsuga menziesii
Due primarily to logging and development, little of B.C.'s original Douglas-fir old-growth forests remain.Winter wrens scold from their ground nesting sites, towhees flit about in berry thickets in search of seeds and fruits whilst flocks of cheerful kinglets glean insects and seeds from treetop to forest floor.
GOLDEN CROWNED KINGLET Regulus satrapa
SPOTTED TOWHEE Pipilo maculatus
PACIFIC WREN Troglodytes troglodytes
FOAMFLOWER Tiarella trifoliata
In June, the forest floor is covered by its tiny tiara-like blossoms.
EMETIC RUSSULA Russula emetic
Brittle-gill mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of a mycorrhizal fungus, living in close association with tree roots. The fungus supplies its host with nutrients and water in return for sugars produced by the tree.
FALSE LILY OF THE VALLEY Maianthemum dilatatum
Patches of cordate leaves spread over the forest floor, identify this delicate shade-tolerant herb.
PILEATED WOODPECKER Dryocopus pileatus
Large rectangular holes in decaying trees and logs indicate our largest woodpecker species has been searching for ants, beetles and their larvae, which are deftly extracted by its barbed tongue.
DOUGLAS SQUIRREL Tamiasciurus douglasii
Named after the explorer and botanist, David Douglas, this squirrel harvests and eats thousands of conifer seeds annually.
Important members of the forest ecosystem, centipedes are active carnivores while millipedes feed on decaying vegetation.