Nitinat lake Overview, Biological and Physical

Posted March 5, 2006 | Categories : 54,Reports,Species List |


Sitka Spruce needles


To preserve Douglas-fir trees near their westernmost limit of distribution on southern Vancouver Island.

Physical: The reserve extends for about 2.5 km along the eastern shoreline of Nitinat Lake and 300 m inland. It has steep slopes varying in exposure from west to northwest. Rocky outcrops, bluffs and talus are common, especially near lake level. The regional bedrock is primarily granitic; soils are mostly Podzols developed on glacial till and colluvium. Surrounding mountains of the Vancouver Island Ranges rise to about 1000 m. The climate is moderated by low elevation and proximity to the outer coast (12.5 km). Average annual precipitation is in the 250-350 cm range.
See the complete PDF here: nitinat overview

Nitinat Lake, although not part of the reserve, is of interest because it is slightly tidal, has a thin layer of fresh water on its surface with salt water beneath, and contains mostly marine or brackish organisms.

Biological: Douglas-fir and Sitka spruce trees occur here in scattered stands among broken rock and bluffs, where competition from other coniferous trees is reduced. Characteristic understory plants in areas where fir is most abundant are the moss Stokesiella oregana and the lichen Cladonia gracilis. Western hemlock is the dominant tree over most of the area on representative sites. Two hemlock communities have been noted, one with an understory of salal, oval-leaved blueberry and red huckleberry, the other characterized by Alaskan blueberry and the moss Rhytidiadelphus loreus. Other trees in the reserve include western redcedar, yellow cedar, amabilis fir, western mountain-ash and western yew. Some wildflowers noted here are the trillium, false lily-of-the-valley, Siberian miner’s lettuce, clasping twistedstalk and Hooker’s fairybells. At least six species of ferns and 22 bryophytes are present. The vertebrate fauna has not been surveyed.

Cultural: A traditional Dididaht fort site (P’up’ubak) is located on a small promontory on the east shore of Nitinat Lake. The surrounding area has a number of post-contact culturally modified trees.

Significant Species

Scouler’s corydalis
clasping Twistedstalk
false lily-of-the-valley
Hooker’s fairybells
Siberian miner’s-lettuce
western trillium


blueberry, Alaskan (Vaccinium alaskaense)
blueberry, oval-leaved (Vaccinium ovalifolium) corydalis, Scouler’s (Corydalis scouleri)
Douglas-fir, coast (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii) fairybells, Hooker’s (Prosartes hookeri var. oregana) fir, subalpine (Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa) hemlock, western (Tsuga heterophylla)
huckleberry, red (Vaccinium parvifolium)
lichen, pixie (Cladonia gracilis)
lily-of-the-valley, false (Maianthemum dilatatum)
miner’s-lettuce, Siberian (Claytonia sibirica)
moss, loreus goose neck (Rhytidiadelphus loreus)
moss, Oregon eurhynchium (Eurhynchium oreganum) (formerly Stokesiella oregana) mountain-ash, western (Sorbus scopulina)
redcedar, western (Thuja plicata)
salal (Gaultheria shallon)
spruce, Sitka (Picea sitchensis)
trillium, western (Trillium ovatum var. ovatum) twistedstalk, clasping (Streptopus amplexifolius) yellow-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) yew, western (Taxus brevifolia)