Native Orchid News:
The Newsletter of Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
Vol. 4 Issue 1   February 2002
ISSN 1499-5476

Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
35 St.Michael Rd, Winnipeg,MB R2M2K7
For more information on NOCI, contact Bud Ewacha at 253-4741 or e-mail

Board Meetings:
First Wednesday every month (except July & August) 7:30pm at Powerland 170 Marion St

Rare Plant of the Month:
Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera praeclara)


2002 is starting off to be an exciting year, with new activities on the go.

We are about to experiment with a new type of meeting that will allow our members more participation, in our organization.  The first Members Meeting will be held Wednesday, March 6th so keep that date in mind.  Board members, Peggy Bainard Acheson and John Neufeld, have done an excellent job planning it and you may read their invitation with all the details elsewhere in this newsletter.  They have arranged a very interesting program.  Come out and enjoy it with us.

NOCI is holding a fund-raising lottery to help pay for some of our on-going conservation projects.  We are expected to raise money as well as provide in-kind work in order to receive outside grants, so please help us be successful in this first attempt.  Our president, Bud Ewacha has gone around getting some very nice prizes donated by businesses and individuals.  Board member, Bob Joyce has agreed to be in charge of ticket sales.  The tickets sell for $2.00 each or a limited number at 3 for $5.00.  The draw will take place at our Annual General Meeting, Wednesday, April 10, 2002 at the Dakota Lawn Bowling Club.  More info and tickets can be obtained from Bob Joyce 256-8113 or Bud Ewacha at 253-4741.  Please help us by buying tickets or even selling some for us.  You will be doing it for a worthy cause, not to mention a chance to win a nice prize.  Tickets will be available at all our meetings and displays, as well as from Bob.  As well, I'm sure any board member would love to sell you a ticket if they can beat Bud to it!

Our Annual General Meeting will be held Wednesday, April 10, 2002 at the Dakota Lawn Bowling Club.  We will be electing four members to the Board of Directors at that time.  Please remember to reserve that date on your calendar and come out and vote.  It will also be your last chance to buy raffle tickets before the draw to be held that evening.  Remember your membership fees are due now and you need to be a paid-up member to vote.  You will be contacted later by our nominating committee, chaired by member Eugene Reimer 237-7833, to see if any of you would like to run for the board.  You will also receive further written notification in our March newsletter.


  March 21-24   St.Vital Centre
April 5-7 Manitoba Orchid Society Show at Assiniboine Park Conservatory
April 21-27 Grant Park Shopping Centre

Try to get out and see these displays.  If you can volunteer a few hours to help, please let Bud know at 253-4741.  We need your help.

Letters to the Editor

Leigh Cullen writes:

In response to your Trailing Arbutus item in October 2001 issue:

Pioneering with Wildflowers by George D. Aiken, Prentice Hall, Engelwood Cliffs, New Jersey, U.S.A. 1968

This gives good advice on the life of the plant at Chapter IX, pages 31 and 32.  Mentioned are the small brown seeds forming after the early May flowering time (in his area of course) and seed pods in mid-June maturing after the mid-June time and disappearing in short order, when chipmunks, ants and other insects find them.  (Includes) Ideas for developing cuttings, transplanting plants, and growing the plants in partial shade, and using pine needle mulch on the transplants if too hot and sunny.  Keep them moist under leafmold, he says even though the original plants were growing naturally in full sun.

I hope this reference book might help your study of this beautiful wildflower.  Personally, I would love to see some in the spring.  I often wander in the Sandilands, but have not stumbled on them.


Editor's Comments:

Thanks for your informative letter, Leigh.  I will look again for those elusive seed pods.  If you want to see them in bloom, come with us on the first field trip of 2002, in late April or early May, depending on the weather.  Our field trip schedule is usually in our April newsletter and on the website by then.  You can see Trailing Arbutus in bloom in one of our protected areas near East Braintree at that time.

We appreciate feed-back from our members.  If you have any comments regarding anything you see in our newsletters or have suggestions for further articles, please contact me at 231-1160 or by letter.

Doris Ames


Do you long for summer?  Are the long winter months getting you down?  We have just the ticket for you to make the wait for spring a little more bearable.  The Board of Native Orchid Conservation cordially invites you to participate in our first annual (hopefully) Member's Night where we hope to inform you, entertain you and talk orchids!

Who: Members of Native Orchid Conservation (you can renew your membership at the meeting if you haven't already) and guests.
When: 7:30 pm, Wednesday, March 6, 2002
Where:   Dakota Lawn Bowling Club,  1212 Dakota Street, Winnipeg
What: Helios Hernandez, from the Parks and Natural Areas Branch of Manitoba Conservation, will tell us about Manitoba's Protected Areas Initiative and explain the process of designating an area as an Ecological Reserve.  He may have important and exciting news to share with us.

Christie Borkowsky, a graduate student from the University of Manitoba, will share with us her exciting research project on the Western Prairie Fringed orchid and other prairie flowers.

Doris Ames, our Vice-President, will regale us with an overview of the work carried out on the South-East Timber Sale project this past summer.
Why: We hope to get to know our members better, to give an update on some of our projects and to find out what our members are thinking about the progress of our various projects.

Winter can be long for orchid enthusiasts who yearn to be outdoors looking for that new species they haven't yet discovered.  Why not join us for an evening of intense orchid talk!

Coffee, tea and dainties will be served.

RSVP by March 5:  Peggy Bainard Acheson, 261-9179

Rare Plant of the Month

Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera praeclara)

Much as been written about this most spectacular of Manitoba orchids since it was officially reported in 1984, but very little was meant for amateurs.  I will try to give an outline of the small amount of information I have, based primarily on the few times I have seen it in the field at different times of the year, and what I have learned from others.

This orchid will only grow in calcareous prairie or meadow fens.  This is unfortunate because only about 1% of Manitoba's original tall grass prairie is left.  Its only known location in Manitoba is in the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve near Tolstoi and Gardenton.  It is listed as Endangered by COSEWIC.

A tall, robust plant, up to one meter high, it has lance-shaped leaves; smaller higher up the stem and clasping the stem lower down.  There are many flowers with brilliant, white petals.  The large, three-parted lip has long fringes.  The flowers have 3" spurs and give off a vanilla-like odour that becomes stronger at night.  Blooming period in Manitoba is mid-June to mid-July.  After successful pollination, lots of dark brown pods form near the top of the stem and split open to release their fine seeds.  The ragged old pods persist all winter.

Research is being carried out by many well-known scientists in our area and in the few areas where it exists in the United Sates.  Three that I know are Dr. Karen Johnson, former Curator of Botany, Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature; entomologist, Dr. Richard Westwood; and University of Manitoba graduate student, Christie Borkowsky.  Dr. Johnson monitors the growth of hundreds of these orchids in plots at Tolstoi, while Christie and Dr. Westwood carry out studies on orchid pollination and search for the pollinator.  The long spur and other characteristics of the flower lead them to believe it is a kind of Sphinx Moth.  The orchid seems to have great difficulty with pollination and as well, the number of blooming plants fluctuates wildly each year.  Last year, for instance, very few bloomed and even fewer got pollinated.  Vegetative reproduction is very uncommon.  Besides loss of habitat and pollination difficulties, other threats to its continued existence include: climate change, draw-down of the water table, water pollution, and competition from invasive species such as Leafy Spurge.

I recommend that any of you who have not yet seen this rare and lovely orchid, should visit the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve this summer.  But in the meantime, come out to our Members Meeting on March 6th.  Christie Borkowsky will be speaking about her research project on pollination of the Western Prairie Fringed Orchid.  It will be an ideal time to get answers to your questions about this amazing orchid and its very special habitat.