Le Conte's Sparrow. (Photo by Christian Artuso)

Le Conte's Sparrow. (Photo by Christian Artuso)

On the hunt for small white lady’s-slippers

Large yellow lady's slipper, MB (Photo by NCC)

Large yellow lady's slipper, MB (Photo by NCC)

On June 7, 2015, the Manitoba Region of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) hosted a Conservation Volunteers event to search for two early spring species: the endangered small white lady’s-slipper orchid and rare two-flowered dandelion. The event took place on NCC’s East Shoal Lake property in the Interlake, just northwest of Stonewall. The property is characterized by typical Interlake ridge and swale topography, as well as prairie, oak woodlands, aspen forest and wetland communities.

Small white lady’s-slippers are federally threatened and provincially endangered, occurring in a small number of populations in Manitoba and Ontario.

There was a great turnout, despite the drizzly start to the day as 10 volunteers joined NCC staff in Stonewall to head out to the property. Thankfully the rain stayed away for the rest of the day, despite a couple of close calls! The first stop was at a known site of small white lady’s-slippers, where volunteers had the opportunity to view and photograph these unique plants.

Most people hadn’t seen them before and were quite surprised at their small size. Although they can grow to a maximum of 36-40 centimetres, these plants were only about 10 centimetres in height, with flowers only two to three centimetres long. Volunteers were also quite surprised to learn that the orchids produce no floral rewards (pollen or nectar) and have to trick insects into providing pollination services.

Despite the efforts of all our keen volunteers, and the presence of suitable habitat, we didn’t find any small white lady’s-slippers or two-flowered dandelions on the property that day. Everyone did however enjoy sightings of the more common yellow lady’s-slipper in the aspen bush and along the dirt road south of the property.

The team found many other prairie plants in flower, including:

  • pale goat-chicory
  • balsam ragwort
  • blue-eyed-grass
  • eastern yellow star-grass
  • strawberry
  • prairie smoke

Other sightings included common garter snakes, frogs and a hawk flying overhead.

NCC thanks all of our volunteers for coming out! Their participation in these events is not only invaluable to NCC’s continued conservation efforts, but can result in a new and exciting experiences for many volunteers.

(Hover over each image in the slideshow below for a caption, or click to enlarge.)

  • Volunteers identifying plants. (Photo by NCC)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Volunteers identifying plants. (Photo by NCC)
  • Hybrid yellow and white lady's-slipper. (Photo by NCC)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Hybrid yellow and white lady's-slipper. (Photo by NCC)
  • Early violet. (Photo by NCC)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Early violet. (Photo by NCC)
  • Volunteers identifying plants. (Photo by NCC)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Volunteers identifying plants. (Photo by NCC)
  • Yellow lady's-slipper. (Photo by NCC)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Yellow lady's-slipper. (Photo by NCC)
  • Swallow tail. (Photo by NCC)
    Click on the image to enlarge.
    Swallow tail. (Photo by NCC)

 

 

Supporter Spotlight

http://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/what-you-can-do/donate/Monthly_gift.html