Native Orchid News:
The Newsletter of Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
Vol. 3 Issue 3   October 2001
ISSN 1499-5476

Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
35 St.Michael Rd, Winnipeg, MB R2M2K7
www.nativeorchid.com
For more information on NOCI, contact Bud Ewacha at 253-4741 or email <bud_ge@escape.ca>

Board Meeting:
first Wednesday of each month (except July & August) 7:30pm at Powerland 170 Marion St

Rare Plant of the Month:
Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens)


Projects:

We had a busy summer working on our new project "A Survey of Timber Sales in the Southeast." With funding from the Provincial government (Sustainable Development Initiative Fund), the Federal government (Dept. of the Environment) and Premier Horticulture, as well as help from the Conservation Data Centre, The Department of Conservation, Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation and Buffalo Point Ojibway First Nation, we have managed to identify 22 areas so far with rare plants in them. Some of these plants are used in traditional medicine and we will turn their locations over to the First Nations in the area. We will then give all the data on the locations of these plants to the Dept. of Conservation. This will allow them to integrate this information into their forestry management plans. Premier Horticulture has offered to show us their peat mining areas to see if there are any rare plants there. They can then take the locations of these unique areas into consideration when making their peat harvesting plans. We will turn all the data we collect over to the Manitoba Conservation Data Centre at the end of the project. They will organize it, map the locations and make the data available for research. Starting this project, which involves exploring remote bogs, was a challenge this year, with all the rain and the bugs and the heat, but it was very interesting just the same. Thanks to the funders and to all the people that helped us with the project. It feels good to be doing something to protect the environment, instead of just sitting at home worrying about it.

Work continued on our project on Effects of Selective Cutting on Understory Plants. We managed to count all the orchids and photograph all the plots in spite of the bugs. We're used to them, but they were horrible this year. That part of the Sandilands had so much rain this summer that many of the plots were full of water. Most orchids didn't do well under these conditions and the total count was down 30%. I'm sure many of you have noticed some of our new "lakes" near Richer along Highway #1.

Our project involving Pathology in Cypripediums has taken on new life since Carla Zelmer has moved back to Manitoba and started working on it. Carla is one of our members and is a Ph.D. candidate in botany at the University of Guelph. She is especially interested in the symbiotic relationship between orchids and mycorrhizal fungi. I can't wait to read her final report.

Activities:

We conducted five field trips this year, which about 50 people attended. Bob Joyce, our new coordinator did a great job of organizing them. Many thanks to Bob and to our field trip leaders, Bud, Peggy and Richard. The Gull Lake trips are especially popular, because of the many orchid and other rare plant species to be found there. We are hoping that the Province will declare part of this wonderful fen an ecological reserve very soon.

Members and Volunteers:

At our first board meeting since June, Peggy, our membership chair, reported that we have more than 200 members to date. We are very pleased that so many of you renewed your memberships. Welcome to all of our new members. I am sure most of you have spoken to our president, Bud Ewacha; he is our greatest recruiter. Be sure to come out to our displays at the shopping centres in the spring and to our field trips in the summer. During the winter, you will continue to receive the newsletter and you are most welcome to attend one of our board meetings. Just make sure you phone first, in case we have had to change the date of the meeting for some reason. If you have any comments about anything you see in the newsletter or any information about native orchids or other rare plants that you would like to share, please feel free to write, e-mail or phone us.

Many thanks to our board members. They are a very special kind of member with a great deal of commitment. Serving on the volunteer board of a non-profit organization, while rewarding, is also hard work. Decisions are often difficult, money is always tight and the pay is non-existent. Thanks, as well, to all those who volunteer to help us in any capacity. I think what makes people stay and work together even when it is difficult, renew their membership when money is tight, attend at our displays and volunteer to serve when they are busy, is that they have a shared purpose. In our case, it's our love of the natural world and our desire to protect it. From time to time, all 200 plus, of us, need to remember why we joined this organization in the first place. If we stay focused on our mission we will be successful. Just in case you forgot why you joined in the first place, here's the mission statement:

Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
Mission Statement

Purpose: The purpose of Native Orchid Conservation Inc. shall be to protect unique mini-ecosystems and their plant communities; primarily native orchids but also other rare and/or endangered native plants.

Objectives:

1. To identify areas containing rare native plant species that are presently unprotected.

2. To work alone and with other conservation bodies, governments and private corporations to conserve native plant species in Manitoba and throughout Canada.

3. To perform research and field studies and to preserve data on, and specimens of, native plants.

4. To foster an awareness and appreciation of rare native plant species through education and display.

5. To provide an association and a voice for those interested in the conservation of native plants and the natural environment.

6. To provide field trips and opportunities for study for students and others interested in learning more about our native plant species.


That being said, we welcome new volunteers. We especially need help with fund raising and updating the website. There is a ton of great pictures to upload onto the website, thanks to Bud and Richard.

And, on the subject of fund raising, if you have more money than time and would like to help protect rare plants and their environment, consider sending us a donation. We are a non-profit charitable organization and will issue a tax receipt. It is especially important this year, after the tragic events this month in New York city. The resulting lay offs and recession, will almost certainly make it harder than usual for us to get government funding. Thanks to all the people who sent us donations of all kinds this year. Our special thanks to Chief John Thunder and the Buffalo Point Ojibway First Nation for their generous donation. First Nations people's concern and respect for the environment is traditional and a model for us all.


Rare Plant of the Month
Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens)
(see cover photo)

Trailing Arbutus is not an orchid but a member of the Heath family. Rare in Manitoba, it is found scattered among a few sandy, moss-covered coniferous forests in the southeast. It is a trailing plant that has leathery, evergreen leaves covered with stiff hairs. There seems to be two varieties, one hairier than the other. The ones with the smoother leaves are more common in the Sandilands Forest Reserve.

The sweet-scented little flowers appear in the early spring and can be seen half buried in the moss. Some of the plants have pink flowers and some of them have white flowers. If you are lucky enough to come upon a large patch of these in bloom, their perfume is so strong you can smell it from several feet away.

Although these lovely plants are often covered with potential pollinators such as Red Admiral butterflies, I have never seen any berries or seed capsules of any kind. I have looked for them from blooming time to fall and found not a trace. Patches seem to increase in size very slowly and I wonder if they are spreading by root propagation only. Our efforts to transplant them from one place to another in a suitable site have been unsuccessful. This may be because it is difficult to maintain soil conditions to support the fungi that inhabit their roots, but maybe also because they are actually out of their zone.

Trailing Arbutus apparently grows well in southern Ontario and I wonder if any of you have seen their berries there. Perhaps you would let us know if you have seen them or if you have had any success transplanting them or growing them from seed. You can sometimes see Trailing Arbutus growing alongside Moccasin Flowers. They can be found in both pine and spruce forests. We hope to have these rare plants and their habitat protected from clear cutting.