Native Orchid News:
The Newsletter of Native Orchid Conservation Inc. 
Volume 8 Issue 4   December 2006
ISSN 1499-5476

Malaxis unifolia - photo by Eugene Reimer 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 16, 2007, at 1212 Dakota St

Plant of the Month:
Green adder's-mouth (Malaxis unifolia)


President's Report - by Doris Ames

This afternoon as I am writing this report I'm looking out the window and marvelling at the absence of snow in the city at this time of year.  It all melted in the last two weeks.  The animals must find it strange as well because although it's cold the mice have no snow to hide under so they are trying to live in my house instead.  Earlier this week I saw a gopher (Richardson's ground squirrel) sitting up at the side of Bishop Grandin Boulevard looking crabby and switching its tail violently.  I don't think I have ever seen a gopher out and about in the middle of November before.  And that same day we saw a red rose blooming brightly on the boulevard along DesMeurons in St-Boniface.  Of course it's quite possible that by the time you receive this newsletter we could be faced with three feet of snow, because, in Manitoba the weather, like everything else, is never boring.  Perhaps this is part of what the slogan "spirited energy" means. 

The warm weather certainly brought out a crowd to our Members Night on October 27th.  We had our largest attendance ever as members came out to hear our guest speakers Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (BON) Elder Lawrence Smith and his son Carl Smith, who is the cultural director of the BON and Manitoba Model Forest president, talk about medicinal plants, their love of the Brokenhead Wetlands, and its importance to them.  We also received reports and updates on the Brokenhead Trail project and the Seed Bank project.  See Peggy's complete report elsewhere in this issue. 

The date of the Annual General Meeting is Friday, February 16, 2007.  Be sure to mark it on your calendar and plan to attend.  Information on guest speakers, elections, prizes, etc, will appear in a future issue of the newsletter. 

The time is fast approaching for membership renewal.  Our membership is growing steadily and we need to keep it that way so please renew promptly.  At the same time I would like to ask you to consider sending in a donation to help us with our conservation work.  We especially need your support for our two new projects: the seed bank project and the installation of boardwalks and interpretive trails in the Brokenhead Wetlands.  I know they are expensive and ambitious projects, that are a lot to handle by a small group like NOCI, but they are extremely worthwhile and we need to try to get them done.  I would be happy to answer any questions on these projects from those of you who were not at Members Night and do not have an Internet connection.  As most of you will know, we are a registered charity, and provide tax receipts for donations of $10.00 or more. 

Best wishes for the Holiday Season and for a happy and successful New Year.

Mark Your Calendars!
For the Annual General Meeting

Friday, February 16, 2007, 7:30 pm. 
Manitoba Bowls Centre, 1212 Dakota Street

Watch for details in our next newsletter! 

2006 Members' Night Report

by Peggy Bainard Acheson

NOCI's sixth annual Members' Night was held Friday, October 27, 2006 at the Manitoba Lawn Bowling Centre clubhouse at 1212 Dakota Street in Winnipeg.  Approximately 60 members and guests of NOCI came out to enjoy the presentations and displays. 

We were honoured to have Carl Smith, Cultural Director of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (BON) and his father, Elder Lawrence Smith.  Lawrence gave us a wonderful, heartfelt talk about medicinal plants, the potential for their healing power, and the strength he receives from his relationship with Nature.  With the increasing impact of human activities causing potentially irreversible damage to Earth's ecosystems, his words were a sober reminder of how important it is to renew our connection to the natural world from time to time, and to try and conduct our lives in a way that protects the Earth. 

Board member (and webmaster) Eugene Reimer gave a brief, but detailed overview of the various options and projected costs of one of our most exciting new projects, the Brokenhead Trail project.  There was a lively discussion regarding the merits of the various options. 

Our President, Doris Ames, gave an informative presentation on our Seedbank project that we started working on this year with Dr Richard St-Pierre from Agriculture Canada as part of the Plant Gene Resources of Canada.  The purpose of this project is to provide a little insurance should the threats to our orchids become worse over the next few decades. 

Both Eugene's and Doris' presentations and Members' Night pictures are available on our website.  If you have any comments on either of these projects, would like to get involved, or if you have any good fund-raising suggestions, please let us know.  We would love to hear from you!  Please send Doris an email (, or call and leave a message at 947-9707. 

Following the door-prize draw, refreshments were served, and everyone had an opportunity to mix and enjoy the displays.  At the membership table 12 memberships were renewed.  I would like to thank the board and all the volunteers who helped with set-up and take-down at the hall, prepared refreshments, donated door prizes, and brought displays, etc.  We can't do this without you! 

2007 Membership Renewal/Donation Time!

Dear NOCI Members:
Please renew your membership and help us continue our efforts to increase awareness for protection of rare plants and their habitat.  Our membership fees will remain at $10 for individuals and $25 for group memberships.  Please consider making a donation and sending it along with your renewal.  Donations can also be made in a secure manner through the Donate Now Through! button on our website.  A tax-deductible receipt will be issued in February 2007 for donations of $10 or more made prior to December 31, 2006. 

If you have already paid your 2007 renewal dues please ignore this message!  Also, please indicate any address or email changes.  If you are in doubt, or for further information about memberships, renewals or donations, please call me (Peggy) at 204-261-9179.  Please fill out the Membership-form and return it to the address on the form.

Plant of the Month

Green adder's-mouth (Malaxis unifolia)

By Doris Ames

The botanical name of this orchid comes from the Greek word "malaxis" meaning "soft" or "delicate" and from the Latin words "unus" meaning "one" and "folium" meaning "leaf" referring to the soft single leaf.  The common name refers to the shape of an individual flower when seen from above. 

Although all three Malaxis species are considered rare, Green adder's-mouth is considered the most common of the three and is often found in colonies.  In spite of this it is often overlooked because of its small size and green colour. 

This orchid is found in many different kinds of habitat including coniferous bogs and fens as well as acidic Jackpine forests.  Look for it on sphagnum moss hummocks in wetlands wherever you find any of the other Malaxis species as it is often found growing beside them.  It can also be found growing in Jackpine forests near Moccasin-flowers.  It is usually found in southeastern Manitoba but there are reports of it being found near Cowan, Manitoba as well. 

The tiny plant is 8-20cm tall with a swollen pseudobulb at the base of the stem and a few fibrous roots.  The single ovate-elliptic leaf is attached near the middle of the stem.  The base of the leaf sheaths the stem.  When considering this information it is important to remember that when the plant is growing on a sphagnum hummock a large portion of the lower stem may be buried in the moss.  The prominent midrib in the leaf of this plant is distinctive.  The flowering plant has a distinctive flat-topped raceme containing 20-70 pale green flowers bunched together near the top of the stem; the raceme elongates into a cylinder as the flowers develop.  The 3-4mm flowers are some of the tiniest in the orchid world.  Each flower has a tiny floral bract, a long pedicel and a lowermost recurved lip with three teeth at the apex.  The flowering time is from early July to early August.  Fungus gnats are believed to be the pollinators. 

A few ellipsoid seed capsules can be found spread out in a loose cylinder near the top of the stem.  The seed capsules stick out on a long pedicel at 90° to the common flower stalk. 

In Minnesota and Ontario there are reports of Green adder's-mouth growing on granite rock outcroppings among the lichens and in acidic Jackpine forests along with Goodyera species.  I think it likely does the same in some parts of Manitoba and we need to make more of an effort to look for it in unusual places in July and August.