Native Orchid News:
The Newsletter of Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
Volume 8 Issue 1   February 2006
ISSN 1499-5476

Pitcher Plant Flower - photo by Richard Reeves Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
117 Morier Ave, Winnipeg MB R2M0C8

For more information contact Doris Ames at 204-947-9707 or e-mail

Annual General Meeting:
Friday, February 24, 2006 at 1212 Dakota Street

Plant of the Month:
Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea)


President's Report

Doris Ames

Our Annual General Meeting is fast approaching.  We have an exciting evening planned for you. 

As usual we will begin with the business meeting.  The minutes of the 2005 AGM will be read and the members asked to ratify them.  I will review our activities over the past year and our plans for future projects and our Treasurer, Eugene Reimer will present the financial report.  We will answer any questions you have about our activities or finances at that time.  Membership Chairperson, Peggy Bainard Acheson will give a brief report on the feedback we received from the members on plans for future directions and activities.  My sincere thanks to those of you who took the time to answer our questions.  If there are any members who would still like to have some input into the planning process and have not already done so, please bring your suggestions and remarks to the meeting and give them to Peggy. 

I would like to let you know about the recent passing of Mike Waldram, general manager of the Manitoba Model Forest.  Mike was a forester and a great friend of the environment.  His tireless efforts to protect and sustain forest ecosystems in Manitoba and throughout North America was an inspiration to us all.  Some of us had the chance to work with Mike, most recently on the Brokenhead Wetland Committee and were won over by his fun-loving ways and his readiness to help any of us with our projects.  He will be missed. 

Following the business meeting I will call upon Nominations Chair John Neufeld to conduct the election of directors to the board.  There are four vacancies to be filled.  Five members have agreed to let their names stand for election and a candidate sheet with a short biography on each one appears elsewhere in this newsletter.  If you would like to let your name stand for election please contact John at 204-326-2357.  We will also accept nominations from the floor.  Guests are welcome to attend the meeting but only members in good standing will be allowed to vote.  Please remember to renew your membership if you have not already done so. 

After the election we will be entertained by our guest speaker David Danyluk, coordinator of Save Our Seine, who will give us a slide presentation on the Seine River Greenway.  He is an expert canoeist and, as he says, "mapographer" who is very knowledgeable about this charming old river.  He has recently produced a map of the Seine and its many attractions that will be of great interest to any naturalist whether their specialty is birds, plants, canoeing or history.  I have seen this map and was delighted to find that it is filled with interesting facts by David and gorgeous illustrations by local artist Denis Savoie. 

There will be a Silent Auction, door prizes and a sale of orchid-related articles including our book "Orchids of Manitoba".  All money raised goes towards orchid conservation.  This will be followed by refreshments and a time to socialize and share information with fellow naturalists. 

It should be a fun evening, we welcome guests, and I hope to see many of you there. 

For those members who were looking for more orchid related trips and winter trips, the following are available:

Orchids in Manitoba - Evening Tuesday April 27 - contact Morris Sorensen 338-4590

Manitoba Eco-network Forum 2006 - networking, skiing, snowshoeing, capacity building - March 10-12 Riding Mountain - contact Liz Dyckman 947-6511

Annual General Meeting

Native Orchid Conservation Inc will hold its Annual General Meeting on Friday, February 24, 2006 at 7:30 PM at the Dakota Lawn Bowls Club, 1212 Dakota Street in St.Vital.  Election of four members to the board of directors will take place at that time. 

Five members have agreed to let their names stand for election to the Board of Directors.  Some information about each candidate is found below.  Nominations will also be accepted from the floor.  If you have questions please contact the nominations chair, John Neufeld, at (204) 326-2357. 

For more information about the AGM please read the President's Report. 

Information on Candidates

Doris Ames:
Doris has been an enthusiastic member of the organization since 1998 and has served in many capacities including president.  She has been in charge of project management for NOCI since 2003 and a large portion of the Brokenhead Wetlands finally received Ecological Reserve Status in 2005 during her tenure.  Doris has had a life-long interest in plants and animals and is a strong advocate for the conservation of rare plant species and biodiversity.  She has written extensively on the subject and most recently spearheaded the publication of "Orchids of Manitoba" and the educational video "Zoom In On Native Orchids".  Known for her quirky sense of humour, she enjoys working with others to conserve Manitoba's native orchid species. 

Huguette Calvez:
Born and educated in Winnipeg, Huguette spent several years working for the Federal Government in Ottawa.  Since her return to Winnipeg 5 years ago, she has been working in the area of project management for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.  She was initiated to the native orchid cause through friends and is enthused with the fact that so many people are dedicating part of their free time to this worthy cause.  She was thrilled to be included in the group who went to see native orchids in Churchill in 2004.  Huguette is bilingual and was able to exclaim in both official languages when she saw a particularly pretty orchid or even a clubmoss! 

Peter Klassen:
Peter, who was born in Steinbach, was always curious about the birds, insects and plant life in the area.  He left to pursue his education and a career designing and repairing scientific instruments and went on as an adult to actually assist in performing open-heart surgery on a dog!  His experiences while travelling and living in different places throughout Western Canada gave him a tremendous appreciation for its beauty.  He returned to Steinbach 11 years ago to open his own business and once again has been investigating the birds, plants and even the stars in this area. 

Richard Reeeves:
Richard has been a member of NOCI since 1998.  He has served as treasurer and is currently the editor of the newsletter.  He is an excellent photographer and educator with computer skills, and most recently did the layout for "Orchids of Manitoba".  He has been an amateur naturalist and environmentalist for as long as he can remember and is an outstanding field trip leader.  His extensive knowledge of the Brokenhead Wetlands is a great asset to NOCI and the Brokenhead Wetland Committee.  Richard is very knowledgeable about native orchids as well as other plant species in the Prairie Provinces and has a quiet sense of humour.  If there is time to kill on a field trip he can always be counted on to relate entertaining facts about wood ticks! 

Eugene Reimer:
Eugene grew up on a farm near Giroux, Manitoba.  He is a life-long naturalist, and another excellent photographer with a special interest in orchids and insects.  Eugene has been a member of our organization since 2000 and is currently our webmaster and treasurer.  He did the technical editing on our field guide as well.  He has served on the Brokenhead Wetland Committee for the past two years and his logical mind, engineering knowledge and computer skills helped the committee to develop plans for the Brokenhead Wetlands Ecological Reserve and he is now working with them once again to develop interpretive trails in the area.  Those of us who work with Eugene know he works best after 3:00pm and it's best not to phone him before that! 


  Your membership in Native Orchid Conservation is about to expire!

If you have already paid your 2006 membership,
we thank you and please disregard this notice. 

Please renew your membership using the Membership/Donation Form.  Help us continue our efforts to increase awareness and educate the public about rare plants and their habitat. 

If you'd like to receive the newsletter electronically, or if you are receiving it that way and wish to reduce our printing and postage expenses by giving up your paper newsletters, then please send an email according to the instructions in Electronic Newsletters

Plant of the Month

Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea)

By Doris Ames

This uncommon perennial is one of Manitoba's insect-eating plants, easily recognized by its distinctive hollow, pitcher-like leaves. 

The genus name "sarracenia" comes from Dr.M.Sarrazin, a Quebec surgeon and botanist, who first used the leaves to treat smallpox victims in 1700.  The Latin word "purpurea" means "purple" and refers to the colour of the flowers and the leaf veins.  The Ojibway refer to the pitcher plant as "frog pants". 

The plant consists of a spreading rosette of green tubular leaves growing from a shallow rootstock.  Each 10-20cm leaf has purplish veins, a wing on one side and a frilly hood partially covering the opening.  The tube part of the leaf is covered with nectar-covered downward-pointing hairs.  The leaf is usually partially filled with rainwater in which mosquitoes and midges drown and are absorbed by the plant to provide much needed nitrogen that is lacking in the nutrient-poor wetland soils.  These insects also provide food for the larvae of a saprophytic fly that lays its eggs on the leaf.  The large single flower is held above the leaves by a 20-40 cm long leafless spike.  The flower consists of 5 sepals and 5 incurved petals usually purple but rarely yellowish-green in colour.  The petals curve over the large, greenish, umbrella-like style but usually drop off earlier than the sepals.  There are many stamens.  The plant blooms from early June in the south to mid July in the north.  Bees are the usual pollinator.  The fruit is a five-sectioned capsule filled with many small seeds. 

Pitcher plants are found in coniferous acidic bogs and slightly calcareous fens of the boreal forest.  It is an indicator plant for habitat that may contain native orchids and other rare plants.  In Manitoba the green leaves turn bright red in the sun during the winter, drying up in the spring when new leaves are produced.  I can remember being delighted to find these winter leaves as they often contained a funnel-shaped piece of ice which would pop right out when you squeezed the leaf.  There were usually quite a few bug parts frozen into that fancy "ice-cube". 

This plant does indeed have medicinal properties.  A preparation made from the leaf and mixed with other plants was used by Dr.Sarrazin to treat the symptoms of smallpox during the epidemic in the 1700's.  He likely learned to do this from the aboriginals who used it to treat fever, cough and headaches.  In Manitoba the aboriginals use it to treat kidney and bladder complaints.  These pretty and unusual plants are easily grown from seed and more research is now being done on their medicinal properties.