Native Orchid News:
The Newsletter of Native Orchid Conservation Inc.
Volume 9 Issue 5   October 2007
ISSN 1499-5476

Bottle Gentian - photo by Lorne Heshka Native Orchid Conservation Inc
117 Morier Ave, Winnipeg MB R2M0C8

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

Members Night:
Friday, October 26, 2007

Plant of the Month:
Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)


President's Report - by Doris Ames

Due to the wet weather we had had very few severe frosts this fall and many trees still retain their leaves.  What a treat it is to be able to enjoy all their beautiful colours and shapes this late in the year! 

On the city boulevards we can see the dainty, pale-green leaves of the Siberian elms, bronze-purple Schubert chokecherry leaves and the bright red fruit and green leaves of the ornamental crabapple trees. 

In the country feathery golden tamarack boughs, dark-green spruce and red-stemmed clumps of Osier willow are reflected in the dark, still water of ditches, rivers and lakes. 

This evening I could hear the faint honking of geese overhead, see one or two stars peeking out from behind the low layer of clouds and smell the earthy, mushroom-like smell of late fall in the air as we set out on our walk. 

NOCI had a busy summer filled with many wonderful field trips to see orchids and other rare plants.  And this year, thanks to Bep Vanderwoude, we had another two "wind-up walks", one to Bird's Hill in July and (just because that one was so much fun), we had another one to Beaudry Park in September.  NOCI members took part in many other activities.  Peggy Bainard Acheson, Ruby Tekauz (our nominator) and I had a great trip to Montreal to pick up our Silver conservation award at the Canadian Environmental Awards Gala, we an excellent orchid festival in Senkiw, and we went on survey trips to locate rare plants and orchid seed capsules for our Seed Bank Project. 

We continued to work with our partners in Debwendon Inc on the production of an educational video on the Brokenhead Wetlands.  It should be completed very soon.  This DVD should help to inform people about the value of wetlands as well as help us fund-raise for the boardwalks and interpretive trails.  This project was funded in part by a grant from Manitoba's Sustainable Development Initiative Fund and we thank them once again for their support. 

I am especially proud of our latest project, our Tenth Anniversary Calendar.  It features beautiful pictures of Manitoba's native orchids and some of the plants and animals and other features that are part of their ecosystem.  It contains a list of NOCI milestones as well as some of the NOCI people and partners that make all our projects possible.  The calendar layout, designed by Heather Reeves, is unique as well as beautiful and functional.  A great big thank-you to Heather and to all the board members that worked on it and donated photographs. 

The calendar will be available for sale at Members Night (God willin' and the creek don't rise), and all proceeds will go to Debwendon Inc for the installation of interpretive trails and boardwalks in the Brokenhead Wetlands.  We have an interesting program planned for you that night and I hope to see many of you there. 

Because of the time-sensitive nature of calendar sales, we will hold the Silent Auction etc at our Annual General Meeting in February instead.  If you have items to donate please bring them with you to Members Night. 

On the right is a page from our Tenth Anniversary Calendar.  The calendar features orchids but has other photographs as well.  Additional pages highlight activities and accomplishments of NOCI during its first ten years.  The calendar will be available at Members' Night.  Come out and be the first to get one. 

A great gift for any occasion! 


NOCI Seventh Annual Members' Night

Native Orchid Conservation Inc is pleased to announce its seventh annual Members' Night at 7:30 pm on Friday, October 26, 2007 at the Manitoba Lawn Bowling Centre, 1212 Dakota Street.  Lorne Heshka, NOCI member and the president of the Native Orchid Conference, will give a presentation "The Highs and Lows of Orchid Exploration".  Another member, Rose Kuzina, will speak on "My two years in The Gambia".  Check out our displays, and enjoy the refreshments.  All welcome.  For more info please contact Peggy at 261-9179 (leave message) or send email to 

Date:   Friday, October 26, 2007   Time: 7:30 pm
Place:   Manitoba Lawn Bowling Centre   1212 Dakota Street, Winnipeg

Plant of the Month

Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)

Gentian family (Gentianaceae)

by Lorne Heshka

Gentiana is named after Gentius, king of Illyria, who supposedly discovered a medicinal value for the yellow gentian.  Andrewsii is named after the English botanical artist Henry C.  Andrews. 

Distribution of the bottle gentian in Manitoba extends across the southern portion of the province; with a preference for damp prairies, wet meadows, and other moist open ground.  Disturbed areas, including roadside ditches are a favoured habitat. 

This native plant normally grows to 30 to 60 cm; however in ideal locations can reach 75 cm or more.  The stems are round, hairless and unbranched, emerging from a perennial taproot.  The lanceolate leaves, up to 10cm long and 4cm wide, are sessile on the stem (attached directly by the base) and are paired directly opposite to each other.  The uppermost tier of leaves is often whorled and the stem terminates in a cluster of flowers nestled within the leaves.  Smaller clusters of flowers may develop from the axils of pairs of leaves below. 

The flowers, 3 to 4 cm in length, are bottle-shaped; always appearing ready to explode into bloom, but never doing so; with the petals remaining closed at the top even when the flower is ready to receive pollinating insects.  Inside, the reproductive structures of the flower are fused together to form a central column.  No floral fragrance is noticeable.  The colour of the flower is normally blue to violet, changing in shade as the blossom matures. 

An alba flowered (white flowered) form of this species is generally uncommon.  However, in Manitoba a substantial population is known to occur along several miles of roadside in the Roseau River area.  The population of this form varies substantially from year to year. 

The blooming period begins in mid-August and may continue for approximately a month.  Bumblebees are one of the few insects that can enter this flower, forcing their way through the top of the closed corolla, and thus are the primary pollinators of this species.  The small seeds depend on water and wind for distribution to nearby habitat.