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Davidsonia Jun 1, 1979

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Summer 1979 Cover:
Asarum caudatum, Western Wild Ginger. This
interesting plant is seldom noticed because the
leaves are close to the ground and the flowers
are usually hidden by them. The petals are
minute, but the sepals are brownish-purple and
extended at the tips into whip-like points, up to
3.8 cm long. One belief is that the flowers are
pollinated by ants, which climb into the flower
along the sepal extensions. The whole plant
has a faint odor of ginger. It is common in
moist shaded woods west of the Cascades in
British Columbia.
Cassiope mertensiana, Mertens' Cassiope, is a
very common evergreen plant, which sprawls
over rocks in alpine regions of North America.
It is commonly called 'White Heather'.
VOLUME 10 NUMBER 2 Summer 1979
Davidsonia is published quarterly by The Botanical Garden of The University of British
Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1W5. Annual subscription, six dollars. Single
numbers, one dollar and fifty cents, except for special issues. All information concerning subscriptions should be addressed to the Director of The Botanical Garden. Potential contributors
are invited to submit articles and/or illustrative material for review by the Editorial Board.
The pen and ink illustrations are by Mrs. Lesley Bohm. The map on page 23 was prepared by
Mrs. Sylvia Taylor. The photographs on pages 24 and 25 were taken by A. R. Kruckeberg; the
one on page 31 by Ron Long; those on pages 34 and 35 were provided by F. Malcolm Knapp;
and the one on page 36 was taken by Roy L. Taylor. Editorial and layout assistance was provided by Mrs. Sylvia Taylor and Mrs. Lorna Anderson.
ISSN 0045-9739
Second Class Mail Registration Number 3313 Plants That Grow On Serpentine—A Hard Life
This will not be a tale about plants with reptilian affinities, despite its title! Nor is it about an
herbaceous border along a sinuous path. It is a story about a curious affinity of certain plants for a
most demanding habitat — the magnesium-rich soils derived from serpentine and other ultramafic1
rock. The only allusion to snakes is the rather fanciful likeness of the lustrous, mottled green
serpentine rock to the pattern of a snake's skin. But first, I must put this exceptional union of plant
and soil in its proper global setting.
Plants and animals are finely tuned to their local and regional environments. Caged canaries used
by miners to sense the quality of air and plants that are sensitive or tolerant to urban pollution are but
two examples of the close tracking of environment by organisms — a truism so universal as to appear
trite in print. Yet some kinds of biological indicators are much more subtle: plants sensitive or
tolerant to heavy metals, DDT resistance in mosquitoes, or plants that can tolerate serpentine.
Botanists recognize three primary environmental conditioners of the response to habitat by plants.
Climate is the chief arbiter of plant survival; then comes soil in diverse qualities; and finally other
organisms or allies exert their effect on plants. All three act as agents of selection, drawing on the
evolutionary potential of plants.
Over the years, my special passion has been to search for examples of plant responses to unusual Ol
soils, where they can add variety within the context of a region's pervasive climate (Kruckeberg,
1969a, b). The search has been easy and fully rewarding for, within any given climatic regime,
geological events have made strong impressions on the local landscapes. Besides the obvious impact
of causing topographic variation — mountains, valleys, north and south slopes, rain-shadow effects,
and the like — geological processes and products influence the chemical and physical properties of
soils. Gardeners know well the effect of limestone rock, saline substrates, or acid peatbogs on the
quality of plant growth. Wherever some geological phenomenon makes a bold impact on the habitat,
the plants of the region must respond. The response can take several forms: the local vegetation may
largely avoid the stressful substrate; or some of the plants of the region may evolve variants that are
tolerant of the extreme condition; or evolutionary adjustment may go so far as to yield new species
narrowly restricted (endemic) to the severe soil type. All these responses have occurred most
dramatically wherever plants encounter soils weathered from serpentine and related rocks.
Serpentine belongs to the ultramafic clan of rocks, in which minerals of iron and magnesium
silicate predominate. Besides serpentine (a metamorphic rock2), other ultramafics like peridotite and
dunite may outcrop as igneous rocks3, emplaced in the country rock without alteration from their
deep-seated origin in the earth's mantle. Serpentine rock is easy to recognize: it glistens as if freshly
polished; its color ranges from black through gray and green, often mottled; it is smooth to soapy to
•Department of Botany, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195.
1 Ultramafic — rocks with iron-magnesium silicate minerals.
2 Metamorphic rock—formed by the transformation, while in the solid state, of pre-existing rocks beneath the earth's surface
through the agencies of heat, pressure, and chemically active fluids.
3 Igneous rock—formed from molten material that solidified on cooling. the touch; and it is easily splintered or fractured. Fresh dunite is dull, greasy, and grayish-brown, as
though it were congealed grease mixed with sand; when exposed to the weather the surface of dunite
turns rusty-brown, revealing its iron content. Peridotite is a rusty-brown rock with massive crystals
and ribbons of asbestos. All three forms occur in the Pacific Northwest.
Besides the high iron content, serpentines often are laced with heavy metals like chromium and
nickel. Minerals other than the iron-magnesium silicate known as olivine may add small amounts of
calcium and potassium to the rock. The weathering processes induced by local climates break down
or alter the parent rock to yield soil. Although much the same constituents found in the parent rock
do persist in the soil, quantities and qualities may change. In the case of serpentine, a clay mineral
often forms, one not found in the rock. Iron and magnesium still enrich the soil, and chromium and
nickel can be present in large concentrations. But nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and calcium — so
essential for plant growth — are usually in short supply. Serpentines are notorious as poor
agricultural soils, deficient in the minerals required for the normal growth of crop plants. The
mineral imbalances in serpentine, plus instability of the underlying rock, usually creates an austere
landscape, often with little or no plant cover. Indeed, the phrase "serpentine barren" is used
worldwide to depict the sere aspect of a serpentine landscape. But far from avoiding serpentine
altogether, certain plants have "learned" to thrive on the demanding substrate. "Learning" to live
on serpentine really means evolving some adaptive structure and function to take advantage of the
"Lebensraum" of such a habitat. In the Pacific Northwest, from northern California to northern
British Columbia, those few species that can survive on serpentine are either genetic races of
wide-ranging species that have evolved a tolerance to the substrate, or they may be distinct species,
adapted to exist solely on serpentine.
Locations of Serpentine and Other Ultramafic Rocks in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.
Ultramafic rocks, rich in iron and magnesium are scattered throughout the Pacific Northwest from
22 northern British Columbia to the Oregon-California border. Three major concentrations occur: in
the Siskiyou Mountains of Oregon and California, in the Wenatchee Mountains of Washington, and
in the Shulaps Range-Yalacom River country northwest of Lillooet in British Columbia. Serpentine
leaves its mark on the vegetation of our region most markedly in the more southerly Siskiyou country
(Whittaker, 1954), where a substantial number of serpentine species are found and where the
contrasts between serpentine and non-serpentine vegetation are the most striking. The display of the
serpentine phenomenon is progressively less spectacular as one travels northward. Although fine
examples of barrens exist in the Wenatchee Mountains, fewer species have adapted to the stressed
habitats. In British Columbia, the effect is largely one of reduced vegetation cover on serpentine,
with the occurrence of only two or three faithful plant indicators of the substrate.
In British Columbia, serpentine and other ultramafics appear in both the Coast Range drainages
and in the drier interior of the Province (see map, Figure 1). In southern British Columbia the major
concentrations are along the tributary drainages of the Fraser River, from Hope to west of Lillooet
and southwest to Prince George. North of latitude 54°N, the outcrops are more widely scattered,
with the main locations around Taku Plateau, the Takla and Trembleur Lakes country, east of Dease
Lake, and in the Cassiar Mountains.
British Columbia serpentines have been of interest to mining concerns and to rockhounds over the
years. Besides the traditional search for gold deposits that may associate with serpentine outcrops,
explorations for commercial deposits of chromium and nickel have utilized serpentine as a pathfinder
rock. Jade, a popular semi-precious stone, is faithfully linked with serpentine in British Columbia,
even though the scattered boulders of jade may be displaced many miles from a serpentine source by
water or glacial action (Holland, 1961).
The occurrence of important mineral resources in or adjacent to serpentine rocks has led to an
unusual approach to prospecting for ores. Dr. Harry Warren, Professor of Geology at The University
of British Columbia, has pioneered the use of geobotanical prospecting, or biogeochemistry (Warren, MILES
90 IO0
0      SO   KX>  190
N. W.T.
FIGURE 1. Map of British Columbia showing the main areas of serpentine rock.
1972). Analysis of the mineral contents of plants growing on probable mineral deposits often reveals
unusually high concentrations of elements that the plants are able to extract from the soil above the
rock, or from the parent material. Since plants can take up mineral elements of many kinds, some of
which are of no nutritional value to the plant, the elemental composition of the plant tissue then
becomes a useful measure of the elemental composition of the soil and underlying rock. Warren and
his associates have used the plant "pathfinder" technique for a variety of minerals: copper, zinc,
gold, silver, molybdenum, lead, mercury, chromium, and nickel. In the case of nickel, chromium,
mercury and other serpentine-associated minerals, geobotanical prospecting would utilize both the
field appearance of the vegetation (barrens or stunted forest and brush localities surrounded by the
more lush growth on non-serpentine rocks), as well as chemical analysis of plant tissues in the
expectation of locating high accumulations of metal elements. FIGURE 2. Extensive serpentine
barren in the conifer belt of the
Wenatchee Mountains, Washington
FIGURE 3. Local serpentine outcrop
in the midst of Mountain Hemlock-
Subalpine Fir forest, Wenatchee
Mountains, Washington State. Plant Life on Serpentines in the Pacific Northwest
The ultimate in the reaction of plants to serpentine is
a complete avoidance of the substrate — barrens
without a sign of life. No such extreme situations are
known in British Columbia. Hardly less extreme are
vast — or local — barrens with little or no woody plant
cover and with a thin vegetation of grasses and other
herbs growing in isolated patches scattered about a sea
of green or rusty brown, rocky talus. The nearest
approach to this condition is in the Wenatchee
Mountains in nearby Washington State (Kruckeberg,
1969b) (Figures 2, 3). Here the few plants may indeed
be unique to the serpentine substrate. Nearly wholly
restricted to these barrens are Douglasia nivalis var.
dentata, a lovely primula-like cushion plant; an umbel
(Parsley Family), Lomatium cuspidatum; two ferns,
Polystichum lemmonii and Aspidotis densa; and a
grass, Poa curtifolia. All but the two ferns are endemic
to Wenatchee Mountains serpentine. Less restricted, but
good indicators of the serpentine habitat, are a few
other herbs like the Wild Buckwheat, Eriogonum
pyrolaefolium, Chaenactis thompsonii and C. ramosa,
Cryptantha thompsonii, Erysimum torulosum, Aren-
aria obtusiloba, and a low shrubby willow, Salix
On more stable serpentine outcrops where the soil is
deeper, woody plants can colonize. But the way they
aggregate into communities is often unique. Tree and
shrub species of either higher or lower life zones often
coexist on serpentine. Thus, in the Wenatchee
Mountains I have found Whitebark Pine (Pinus
albicaulis) and Ground Juniper (Juniperus communis),
both timberline species, growing side by side with
Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Douglas Fir
(Pseudotsuga menziesii), both low montane trees.
In British Columbia, the plant response to serpentine
seems to be not as extreme, either in terms of scanty
plant cover or diversity of species. First, there are no
species wholly restricted to serpentine in the Province.
Though the vegetation cover often is sparse and often
dwarfed in contrast to the plant cover on normal soils, I
have also found situations where a good (high yield)
forest is underlain by serpentine (as on the Coquihalla
River, northeast of Hope, and at the B.C. Nickel Mines
west of Choate). Where forest is replaced by shrub and
herb cover on British Columbia serpentines, the little
Rock Brake Fern or Indian's-dream, Aspidotis densa
(Figure 4), is about the only faithful indicator of the
substrate. However, the species that do grow on these
British Columbia serpentines are more often ones that
are known from drier habitats, rather than those of the
FIGURE 4.   Frond of Aspidotis densa,
Rock Brake Fern or Indian's-dream, x 1. FIGURE 5. Local peridotite outcrop
near Piebiter Creek, Cadwallader
Creek drainage, above Bralorne,
British Columbia. Note the sparse
vegetation devoid of conifers.
adjacent normal substrates. This is the case on the serpentines of the Tulameen River country (at
Olivine Mountain and Grasshopper Mountain) where xeric species like Cirsium sp., Lygodesmia
spinosa, Agropyron spicatum and Hieracium albiflorum grow on serpentine, but are not in the more
mesic forested habitats of normal soils nearby.
The Lillooet District of south central British Columbia has the most impressive serpentine outcrops
in the Province. I have reconnoitered one of these (Kruckeberg, 1969b), just above the gold mining
settlement at Bralorne in the Bridge River country. The scattered outcrops above Cadwallader Creek
are of dunite, nearly pure olivine material. They are visible from a distance only because the
surrounding vegetation on argillite-chert-limestone is low and brushy, still recovering from an old
burn. Although the surrounding vegetation is regenerating to Spruce and Lodgepole Pine, the dunite
outcrop is rather barren (Figure 5): a few stunted pine trees, and a sparse shrub cover of Juniperus
communis, Shepherdia canadensis (Figure 6), Rubus leucodermis (Figure 7), Amelanchier alnifolia,
and Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. Several herb species on the dunite outcrop are of interest, as they are
unexpected in a forested setting: Fritillaria lanceolata, Phacelia leptosepala, Sedum stenopetalum,
Cirsium sp., Silene parryi, Senecio pauperculus, Penstemon fruticosus (Figure 8), Eriogonum
umbellatum, Saxifraga bronchialis subsp. austromontana and Sitanion sp. None of these are peculiar
to high magnesium rocks; rather, they are widespread shrubs and herbs in the Pacific Northwest,
gaining local foothold on the more arid and stressful dunite. Only two species here are good serpentine indicators, both are ferns; Aspidotis densa and Polystichum kruckebergii (Figure 9).
The Shulaps Range, 56 km northwest of Lillooet, is the largest (30 km long by 13 km wide)
ultramafic outcrop in the district, and indeed in the Province. It is part of a long, narrow and
discontinuous chain of ultramafic intrusions extending northwest through most of British Columbia,
east of the Coast Range. The Shulaps Range lies between the Yalacom and Bridge rivers; elevations
range from 1525 m at the Yalacom River to 2430-2475 m at the crest, with Shulaps Peak (2877 m) the FIGURE 6. Shepherdia canadensis,
Soopolallie, x 0.70.
FIGURE 7. Rubus leucodermis, Black
Raspberry, x 0.70. FIGURE 8. Penstemon fruttcosus,
Shrubby Penstemon, x 0.70.
FIGURE 9 (left). Frond of Poly-
stichum kruckebergii, Kruckeberg's
Sword Fern, x 1.
FIGURE 10 (right). Cerastium beer
ingianum, Bering Chickweed, xl. highest point. Though I have yet to visit this remarkable locality, I have had access to unpublished
reports by Professors V. C. Brink and K. Fletcher, botanist and geologist, both of The University of
British Columbia faculty (Brink et al., 1976). The Shulaps ultramafics, making up the bulk of the
range, are a mixture of dunite, peridotite and pyroxenite (igneous ultramafics) that have been
changed to serpentine in varying degrees throughout the entire intrusion. Brink and associates
describe the vegetation of the Shulaps ultramafics as "sparse, typical of ultrabasics elsewhere", and,
unlike most other British Columbia localities, the contrast between the vegetation on ultramafics and
the adjacent more luxuriant and diverse plant life on non-ultramafic rocks is striking. The University
of British Columbia scientists found a few species that appeared to be restricted to the Shulaps
ultramafics; among them are Chaenactis alpina, Cerastium beeringianum (Figure 10), and the
faithful indicator fern, Aspidotis densa. From analyses of the mineral contents of some of these
plants, it was found that certain species concentrate high amounts of nickel and, less often, of
chromium in their tissue.
Professor T. M. C. Taylor has informed me that Polystichum kruckebergii is also known from the
Shulaps ultramafic intrusion. It is hoped that further botanical explorations will provide a fuller
picture of the plant responses to serpentine and related rocks in British Columbia. Only then will it be
possible to evaluate my hypothesis that the plant response to these highly mineralized, yet
nutritionally impoverished substrates is diminished with increasing latitude.
While the serpentine response of plants is of special fascination in its own right, it provokes a more
general interpretation. It reminds us that whenever we try to account for spatial patterns in the plant
world, the importance of geological processes and products must be given due respect. Other
geological influences — chemical and physical — while often more subtle than serpentine in their
effects on plants, do add their impact on determining where plants will and will not grow. I would
maintain that local patterns of vegetation and local distributions and abundances of plant species are
largely due to the variations in some geological attribute that cause a diversity of land form, terrain
and soil, to ever enrich the tapestry of life. 2D
Brink, V. C, K. Fletcher and S. Parmar. 1976. TVace element levels in plants growing on ultramafic (ultrabasic) rocks in British
Columbia. Unpubl. report (Mimeogr.), The University of British Columbia.
Holland, S. S. 1961. Jade in British Columbia. Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources, Province of British Columbia.
Annual Report 1961, pp. 118-126.
Kruckeberg, A. R. 1969a. Soil diversity and the distribution of plants, with examples from western North America. Madrono
 . 1969b. Plant life on sepentinite and other ferromagnesian rock in northwestern North America. Syesis
Leech, G. B. 1953. Geology and mineral deposits of the Shulaps Range, southwestern British Columbia. B.C. Department of
Mines, Bulletin No. 32, pp. 1-54.
Warren, H. V. 1972. Biogeochemistry in Canada. Endeavour 31:46-49.
Whittaker, R. H. 1954. The vegetational response to serpentine soils. In The Ecology of Serpentine Soils: A Symposium.
Ecology 35:275-288. Eburophyton austiniae (A. Gray) A. A. Heller
Phantom Orchid
The very appropriately named Phantom Orchid is almost certainly the rarest orchid in British
Columbia, and is among the rarest of plants in the whole of Canada. The species is phantom-like in
all respects. The thick fleshy roots, the sheathing bract-like leaves, the stem, and the flowers are all
pure waxy white in color (Figure 11). Wraith-like, the plants appear and disappear in inexplicable
cycles, responding to unknown changes in their environment. The solitary white plant standing ghostlike among the shadows of a damp coniferous forest, the exquisite touch of yellow at the centre of
each flower, and the faint but pure scent of vanilla combine in effect to truly haunt the fortunate few
who have seen this plant in bloom. Like a piece of modern jewellery, the secret of the Phantom
Orchid's very considerable beauty is simplicity of form and color. The attractiveness of the plant is
heightened by its exclusive nature, and one cannot escape a genuine feeling of privilege and great
good fortune of having found this botanical gem.
The Phantom Orchid was described almost simultaneously in 1876 by two different botanists.
Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach (1823-1889), an orchid specialist and director of the Hamburg Botanic
Garden, named the plant Cephalanthera oregana after the state from which his specimens had been
sent. Dr. Asa Gray (1810-1888), the great systematic botanist and teacher from Harvard, called it
Chloraea austinae after Mrs. Rebecca Merrit Austin of Quincy, California. Presumably, Mrs. Austin
earned this honour by providing the specimens used by Gray. Gray marginally beat Reichenbach into
print and so the plant was known officially as Chloraea austinae until 1900.
The California botanist Amos Arthur Heller (1867-1944) felt that Reichenbach had been correct in
placing the Phantom Orchid in the genus Cephalanthera, so, in 1900, he published the new name
Cephalanthera austinae. Cephalanthera, from the Greek cephale meaning 'a head' and anthera
'anther', is a genus of about a dozen species scattered across Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean, and
North Africa. The Phantom Orchid was possibly related to this genus because of its resemblance to
the yellow-centred white flowers of Cephalanthera damasonium, a widespread European species.
However, Cephalanthera damasonium and the other species of the genus all have large green leaves,
clearly indicating that they are capable of photosynthesis. The complete absence of green chlorophyll
in the Phantom Orchid shows just as clearly that it is saprophytic. This major difference must have
given Heller second thoughts for, in 1904, he again changed the name. He created an entirely new
monotypic (one species) genus and called it Eburophyton from the Latin ebur meaning 'ivory' and
the Greek phyton meaning 'plant'. At present, most authorities recognize Eburophyton austiniae as
the proper designation for the Phantom Orchid. However, the name Cephalanthera austinae (or
austiniae) still appears in many books and can be a source of some confusion.
Because the Phantom Orchid is so rarely seen there is little to be found in the literature about the
plant. However, some of what has been written is so inappropriate that it is difficult to imagine a
responsible author putting it into print. Most such references are concerned with picking. For
instance, Mary Elizabeth Parsons in Wild Flowers Of California describes the Phantom Orchid as "a
rare and curious plant." Then she goes on to say "... one season a friend sent me the only plant that
was found . . .". Even worse is a statement made by Leslie Haskin in Wild Flowers Of The Pacific
Coast. He states ". . . it is one of the rarest of our flowers." Then incredibly he advises — "pick it
*Ron Long, BioSciences Photographer, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1S6. 31
FIGURE 11. Eburophyton austiniae, Phantom Orchid, x 1.75. and you will find that the flowers are delicately and exquisitely scented ...". I can think of no greater
sacrilege in botany than the picking of a Phantom Orchid, and it is hard to imagine how much
damage such ill-considered statements may be responsible for.
It is a sad commentary on our times that the Phantom Orchid, rare and beautiful as it is, has not
been the object of any serious conservation effort. To my knowledge, nowhere in either the United
States or Canada is the plant officially protected in a park or preserve.
Leonard Wiley in Rare Wild Flowers of North America tells a distressing tale of counting no less
than 865 Phantom Orchid plants in a five acre grove of Douglas Fir. The area was subsequently
logged and burned, thus what was probably the largest concentration of the plant ever found was
destroyed. How could such a thing be allowed to happen? How indeed. It has happened in the past
and could very well happen again.
There is no doubt that the problems faced by conservationists are formidable enough to deter all
but the most dedicated. The habitat preferred by the Phantom Orchid is also highly valued by man so
land costs are exceedingly high. Bureaucratic red tape makes the setting up of preserves a complicated
and expensive proposition, and municipalities insist on levying such high taxes on preserves that even
donated land could not be maintained by the public institutions that might be interested in so doing.
The private conservation funds that could provide sufficient financing have so far felt that the high
cost of preserving the Phantom Orchid cannot be justified. I wonder how any price can be put on the
survival of a species.
In British Columbia the Phantom Orchid occurs in only two very limited localities. The greatest
concentration of plants has been found in the Chilliwack area on a 50 acre property known as Sky
Meadows. Sky Meadows is owned and presided over by a fascinating lady named Katherine Tye.
When, in 1964, Mrs. Tye made the serendipitous discovery of the Phantom Orchids on her property
she began a policy of sharing them with anyone and everyone who was interested. Today, literally
thousands of British Columbia naturalists are in Mrs. Tye's debt for making it possible for them to
experience the Phantom Orchid for themselves.
At 79 Mrs. Tye is still a going concern, but she worries about the day when she can no longer look
after the plants that have been so important to her for so long. She has explored every possible course
of action that might ensure the protection of the orchids. All the factors discussed earlier conspired at
one time or another to defeat her every proposal. It is to Mrs. Tye's great credit that she persisted
and, at this writing, there is hope that the orchid wood at Sky Meadows may yet become an ecological
reserve — preserved forever in its natural state.*
My own serendipitous encounter with the Phantom Orchid began on a boating weekend in the Gulf
of Georgia. I had stopped for the night at a remote cove on Salt Spring Island. Tied up nearby was a
boat owned by Mr. and Mrs. Anderson of Victoria. Boaters being a gregarious lot, the Andersons
and I soon found ourselves in friendly conversation and quickly discovered our mutual interest in
wild flowers. Then Mr. Anderson floored me by casually asking if I had seen the Phantom Orchids
nearby. This was a completely new and unsuspected site which the Andersons had discovered the year
before. The Andersons were understandably reluctant to disclose the exact location of the
plants — after all I was a stranger to them — and, excited though I was, I did not press the point.
The following spring I was pleased to encounter the Andersons again at the same place. They
informed me that they had decided to sell their boat and this meant that they would no longer be able
to watch over the orchids. In their concern for the plants they decided to take a chance and showed
me their location. Some weeks later, on the date the orchids had flowered the previous year, I
returned to the cove. To my great delight I found the plants in full bloom and in beautiful condition,
and spent the next three hours with my camera in happy oblivion to everything but those rare and
lovely Phantoms.
*Sky Meadows has been established as an Ecological Reserve within the Ecological Reserves Act of British Columbia since this
article went to press — Ed. Having become the unofficial guardian of the orchids on Salt Spring, I was greatly concerned from
the very start about their well-being. Logging operations were going on in the immediate vicinity, and
a newly established log dump had already destroyed large numbers of Coralroot (Corallorhiza) and
other orchid species nearby. The contractor's equipment yard was located within feet of the Phantom
Trudy Carson of the Ecological Reserves Office visited the site with me, and subsequently began an
investigation into development plans for the area. She found that the privately owned land was to be
eventually subdivided and the lots put up for sale. The good news was that the developer was a
businessman with a concern for the outdoors. Once appraised of the existence of the orchids, he
promised to do what he could to protect them.
British Columbia is indeed fortunate in having such interested land owners in control of the major
Phantom Orchid sites. Thanks to them, and to the efforts of the Ecological Reserves Office, we can
look forward with some optimism to a secure future for the Phantom Orchid in this Province.
The establishment of an Ecological Reserve at Sky Meadows would provide an ideal opportunity
for scientific study of the orchid. Such study is needed, for knowledge of the plant is almost nonexistent. It poses questions, the answers to which could provide the basis for a succession of Master's
or Ph.D. theses. Questions that need to be investigated might include: What exactly is the
relationship between the Phantom Orchid and the soil fungi that seem to be essential for its survival?
Can the orchid be propagated in the greenhouse? Can a method be found that would allow the
successful transplanting of the orchid? Why are the populations so limited in area?
Mrs. Tye would be an invaluable asset to the researcher. Her close observance of the plants over the
years probably qualifies her as the expert on Phantom Orchids. She has provided the following
information snowing the number of plants produced each year since 1964 at Sky Meadows:
1964 —       8 plants 1969 — 85 plants 1974 — 9 plants
1965 — 35 plants 1970 — 60 plants 1975 — 12 plants
1966 — 75 plants 1971 — 15 plants 1976 — 22 plants
1967 — 100+ plants 1972 — 7 plants 1977 — 18 plants
1968 — 50 plants 1973 — 0 plants 1978 — 11 plants
The reasons for such wide fluctuations in the population alone could be the subject of years of
study. Are the controlling factors climatic? It is possible that a correlation of meteorological records
with the above table would provide some clues.
Does undergrowth affect the population? Why do so few plants produce seed? The unanswered
questions go on and on, but the answers, if they could be found, might provide a basis for the
survival of this endangered species.
Haskin, Leslie Loren. 1967. 2nd ed. Wild Flowers of the Pacific Coast. Binfords and Mort, Portland, Oregon.
Parsons, Mary Elizabeth. 1907. 3rd ed. rev. The Wild Flowers of California. Reprinted in 1966 by Dover Publications Inc.,
New York.
Wiley, Leonard. 1968. Rare Wild Flowers of North America. Wiley, Portland, Oregon.
33 A Look Into The Past
There are several rows of Douglas Fir trees (Pseudotsuga menziesii) on the West Mall of UBC,
between the Armories and Geography Building to the northeast and the Fraser River Parking Lot to
the southwest. Present generations of students, recent graduates and visitors often wonder about
these trees. Are they remnants of the original forest on Point Grey, or were they planted? If planted,
who planted them, and when?
FIGURE 12. The planting crew in 1934, left to right: Ross R. Douglas, D. Larry McMullan, W. Cyril (Cy)
Phillips, Clarke F. McBride, Robert (Bob) W. Weldwood, and Ian C. MacQueen. This photograph gives a good
idea of the appearance of the western part of UBC Campus at the time. The building in the immediate back
ground was then the Applied Science Building, but now houses the Geography Department. Between the
building and the planting is now West Mall.
*E Malcolm Knapp, Emeritus Professor, Department of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1W5. The trees were planted in spring 1934 as a Silvicultural Laboratory Exercise by the combined
Forestry Classes of 1934 and 1935. The trees were obtained originally as seedlings from the Forest
Service Nursery at Green Timbers in Surrey, British Columbia, and were grown for two or three years
at the small UBC Forest Nursery then located on the Campus where the western-most Horticultural
Greenhouse now stands. The trees were four years old and about 50 or 60 cm tall by the time they
were planted out. Planting was by the slow and laborious shovel method. The site chosen was then a
rock-strewn area along the northeast side of what was known as the Campus Forest, partly with the
idea of eventually covering rocks dumped there during the clearing of the University site during the
preceding years, and partly to straighten the irregular edge of the second-growth, rather scrubby
forest. F. Malcolm Knapp, then Associate Professor of Forestry, was in charge of the planting crew
and took the picture (Figure 12), and Rupert Edmunds, then Foreman of the Campus Forest, was
also present. The student participants were: Ross R. Douglas (Forestry Class of 1935); Ian C.
MacQueen (1934); Clarke F. McBride (1935); D. Larry McMullan (1934); W. Cyril (Cy) Phillips
(1935); and Robert (Bob) W. Wellwood (1935).
FIGURE 13. The planting crew in 1974, left to right: Clarke F. McBride, D. Larry McMullan, Ian C. MacQueen,
F. Malcolm Knapp, Robert W. Weldwood, Ross R. Douglas, and W. Cyril Phillips. 36
Two years later, in 1936, the semi-open area just west of this planting was interplanted, but this was
destroyed later when the Fraser River Model was installed. This, in turn, was later replaced by the
present Fraser River Parking Lot.
In 1974, the students and their Professor gathered together to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the
planting, and were photographed in front of the plantation (Figure 13). They had all reached high
positions in their profession — Ross Douglas retired as Director and Vice-President in Charge of
Woods Operations for Rayonier Canada (B.C.) Ltd.; Malcolm Knapp is Professor Emeritus of
Forestry at UBC; Ian MacQueen is semi-retired and Executive Consultant for Forestal International
Ltd.; Clarke McBride retired as Head of the Liaison and Research Development Section of the
Western Forest Products Laboratory in Vancouver; Larry McMullan retired as Manager of Timber
and Lands for B.C. Forest Products Ltd.; Cyril Phillips was in charge of Protection for the B.C.
Forest Service in Victoria; and Robert Wellwood is Professor Emeritus of Forestry at UBC.
These men all hope that the plantation will remain for a long time. In the event that the trees have
to be cut down for a more valuable or urgent use of the area, they would like to see the wood put to
some useful purpose and not just destroyed.
FIGURE 14. A view of the plantation of Douglas Fir trees in 1979 from the Fraser River Parking Lot, looking
east to West Mall. The old Applied Science Building is now obscured by the plantation from this direction. Annual Report 1978
The following represents a summary of the Annual Report for 1978, copies of which are available
from the Office of The Botanical Garden.
Nineteen seventy-eight was a banner year for The Botanical Garden. Many new and exciting
developments took place during the year and it is difficult to pick out any one highlight. Certainly the
official opening of two garden components that have been under development for some time
represented a major achievement. The occasion was made more memorable by the presence of Dr.
William T. Stearn, Senior Research Scientist with the British Museum, who officially opened the B.C.
Native Garden in memory of Dr. John Davidson and dedicated the Alpine Garden as The E. H.
Lohbrunner Alpine Garden.
A new association with the B.C. Nursery Trades Association and the B.C. Society of Landscape
Architects occurred in 1978 with the formation of the Botanical Garden Plant Introduction Advisory
Committee. This Committee consists of representatives of the B.C.N.T.A., the B.C.S.L.A. and The
Botanical Garden, and is designed to provide direction for the development of new plants for
introduction to horticulture.
In the early summer, The Botanical Garden was awarded a $1 million special labour intensive
program for development of public areas of the Garden, with the exception of the major new
building, which is still in the planning stage. Phase 3 of the new building component in the Main
Garden area is anticipated as part of this total program. The infusion of this new money has meant a
major new activity for The Botanical Garden, and we welcome this challenge. It has also given us a
chance to complete the landscaping of the Main Garden program, and will provide increased services
for both the University and the public at large.
Research Activities
The major research program on the control of erosion of the Point Grey cliffs continued under the
direction of Dr. C. J. Marchant. The experimental program investigates the physical factors that
contribute to erosion, such as slope, movement of substrate, wind and frost, in order to determine the
techniques and plant materials that will best facilitate the re-vegetation of the area.
Dr. L. Keith Wade, Research Associate of The Botanical Garden, continued the phenological
study of the genus Rhododendron, in co-operation with the Vancouver Chapter of The American
Rhododendron Society. The study is to be published in early 1979.
Trials were conducted with the new insecticide "Orthene" for the control of root weevils on
Gaultheria shallon and Rhododendron.
The Botanical Garden continued to provide leadership in the research on rare plants of British
Columbia. A preliminary list of taxa to be studied and evaluated was developed during seven
meetings of the British Columbia Rare and Endangered Species Committee.
The plant collections continued to be expanded to meet present and future needs for academic
teaching and research programs. There are now a total of 11,650 records in the master file.
Approximately 1800 plants were added to The E. H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden; over 1900 shrubs,
trees and ground-covers were planted in the Asian Garden, including 680 rhododendrons; and over
600 plants and seedlings were added to the Physick Garden. The B.C. Native Garden received more
than 1500 plants from the Nursery, and also approximately 6200 collected plants and seeds. In the
main Rose Garden and Cecil Green Park, 136 roses were planted to add to the continuing exhibit of
high-quality roses for the Vancouver area. Approximately 6000 heathers were planted in the Upper
Campus gardens. The Nursery operation continued to represent a focal point for the Garden program. More than
13,000 plants were dispatched from the Nursery to various Garden components.
The Nursery Trades Field Day was held in June, and was attended by many members of the B.C.
Nursery Trades Association, the B.C. Society of Landscape Architects and representatives of the
various Lower Mainland Parks departments. A total of 23 taxa were propagated specifically for
introduction to the commercial nursery trade, and 36 species of Salix were propagated and assessed
for distribution.
The designs for a new propagation unit and work area in the Nursery were completed, with construction expected to be finished in 1979.
The herbaceous perennial plant collection at the Office and Educational Centre was expanded by
the addition of an island bed of semishade- and moisture-loving plants. The heather border at the
Centre was widened to incorporate an additional 87 species and cultivars, and a collection of
Magnolia cultivars was planted around the perimeter of the Office Garden.
The library continued to add to its holdings, with 19 new journals being added to bring the total
number of publications received to 190. One hundred and fifty-eight books were incorporated into
the library, 22 of which were donations. The reprint collection was increased by the addition of 98
reprints, 34 of which were of direct horticultural interest. A total of 1237 35 mm slides were added to
the slide collection.
Major Publications
The Botanical Garden continued to publish its quarterly journal Davidsonia. A special issue was
devoted to The E. H. Lohbrunner Alpine Garden, and horticultural and taxonomic reviews of the
genera Juniperus, Rosa and Clematis and their British Columbia taxa were published in other issues
during the year.
Two technical bulletins were produced: Horticulture as Therapy, the proceedings of a symposium
held at The Botanical Garden, edited by Mrs. Sylvia Taylor; and Gardening as Therapy (Spring
Season). The latter resulted from the "Horticulture as Therapy" project of the Friends of the
Garden, and was co-ordinated by Margaret Coxon of the staff.
Education Programs and Public Service
The educational programs offered by The Botanical Garden again experienced an increasing public
interest in horticulturally related classes and workshops. One hundred and twenty six classes,
comprising 1434 students and 506 contact hours, were provided for both amateur and professional
The Garden's guided tour program served both professionals and the general public. Numerous
groups from schools, pre-schools, day-care and community centres were conducted through the
various garden components. The Nitobe Memorial Garden was visited by more than 63,000 people
during the year.
Botanical Garden staff gave 33 talks to various clubs, garden societies and professional organizations, in addition to 40 talks and demonstrations during a ten-day period at the Vancouver Home and
Garden Show, and several talks at the Pacific National Exhibition.
Three staff members participated in numerous radio and television programs during the year, as
well as contributing to a weekly gardening column in the evening newspaper.
During the year, 3473 public enquiries were responded to either by telephone, letter or in person.
The Hortitherapy Program continued to expand during the year. The Garden and the Division of
Continuing Education in Rehabilitation Medicine co-hosted a symposium on "Horticulture as Therapy" in March. Two days of lectures and workshops were conducted by members of the Garden
staff; Mr. Andrew S. White, Research Gardener at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, England; and
various hospital staff. A new greenhouse, intended specifically for use in the hortitherapy program
and designed to allow wheelchair users full access to the potting benches, was opened in March.
Apprentice Program
The three-year apprentice program instituted in 1975 was completed in August 1978. Dr. I. E. P.
Taylor of the Department of Botany at UBC gave a series of ten 2Vi hour classes in Plant Physiology.
Mr. Ken Wilson gave weekly afternoon classes in plant maintenance and pruning, and these classes
are being continued as part of the general staff training program. In addition, a quarterly staff
orientation day was initiated, which involves the staff visiting one garden component each time.
Special Employment Programs
There were several special employment programs during the year: a Canada Works Program
assisted in the establishment and maintenance of Asian plants in selected locations of the Marine
Drive Garden and with the general operation of the Nursery; the Youth Employment Program of the
Provincial Government allowed the employment of three students during the summer; and a Young
Canada Works Program allowed the employment of three students from May to September. The
students gained experience in many aspects of plant growth and maintenance.
Friends of the Garden
The membership and activities of the Friends of the Garden continued to increase, with 33
members presently in the program. The Friends conducted 52 tours of the Native, Alpine and Nitobe
Gardens, comprising approximately 1817 people and 149 contact hours. In addition, the volunteers
continued to provide much-needed assistance in established Garden programs, such as the Seed
Exchange Program, and organized the second Botanical Garden Plant Sale for students and staff at
the University. Approximately 5600 plants were sold during the three-day period.
Botanical Garden News and Notes
New Developments in the Garden — the construction contract of the remaining landscape elements of
the Main Garden is nearing completion, and the Main Garden will be linked with the Asian Garden
by an underpass through the newly extended four-lane highway of Southwest Marine Drive to the
Campus. This completes the major construction for the program in The Botanical Garden and will
enable visitors to visit all Garden components in the Main Garden area without interference from
traffic. New areas in the Main Garden consist of the Evolutionary Systematic Garden, Hybrid
Garden, Economic Garden, Canadian Ornamentals and the conclusion of linkage areas. Temporary
parking has been established for visitors to the Main Garden.
New Brochure Available — This spring marks the advent of a new general brochure on The Botanical
Garden on Campus. The brochure was produced by Information Services at UBC and outlines the
established Garden components as well as the new areas that are under construction. A map of the
Garden areas on Campus makes it easy for visitors to see the various areas.
Nursery Trades Field Day — The 1979 Field Day at The Botanical Garden will take place on August 2.
The program will emphasize a visit to the Upper Campus Garden areas, and members of the B.C.
Nursery Trades Association and the B.C. Society of Landscape Architects will be in attendance. New
introductions for the Nursery Trade will be available at the Field Day.
Annual Report—The 1978 Annual Report has now been completed and limited copies are available
upon request.
Student Plant Sale—The 1979 Fall Student Plant Sale will take place on September 12, 13 and 14.
This special event enables students to obtain interesting plants for their residence accommodations
and gives students an opportunity to take part in and see some of the Botanical Garden programs that 40
are offered on Campus. The Plant Sale is organized and operated by the Friends of the Garden, a
volunteer group in The Botanical Garden.
Ail-American Selection Display Garden—This year, for the first time, UBC Botanical Garden will
have an All-American Selection Display Garden. The demonstration gardens compliment the
All-America Seed Trial Gardens operated by the Department of Plant Science. This garden, one of
many similar gardens across North America, will display All-America flower winners from the
immediate past, present and future years. They offer an ideal opportunity to see at first hand the
growth habit, flower color, and form of the best annuals, as well as offering possibilities for
photography by garden writers, extension specialists, garden club lecturers and camera buffs.
This Garden component, which will be at its best in July and August, will be located in the Main
Garden area adjacent to Thunderbird Stadium, and will be open to the public at all times including
weekdays and holidays.
The Physick Garden —The Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Garden in the Main Garden is now in its
second year and a total of 74 different species of plants are grown there. The Garden is patterned
after an early Italian Monastery Garden, replicating some of the plants that were used for medicinal
and pharmaceutical purposes by medieval monks. Many of the plants grown in the Garden are from
the Chelsea Physic Garden, the Garden of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in London,
and represent strains which date back many centuries. Information on the use of the plants is
provided on labels developed by the Friends of the Garden Committee working on the Physick
Garden project.
Educational Activities — Fall education programs at The Botanical Garden are operated in conjunction with the Centre for Continuing Education. Some of the programs of particular interest are
courses in culture, cooking and customs of herbs; shrubs and climbers for the fall garden; and
cultivation of native plants. Other courses are offered on bulbs, pruning of fruit trees and plants for
Christmas decorations. Additional information on details, cost and times are available by writing
directly to The Botanical Garden or the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of British
Columbia. Projected field horticultural study tours are to Hawaii (December 29, 1979-January 12,
1980) and southern England in May 1980.
International Society of Arboriculture — Dr. John W. Neill has been elected as the first President of
the newly-formed Pacific Northwest Chapter of the ISA, which will include members from
Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. The 1st Annual Conference and Business Meeting of the
Chapter will be held on October 18 and 19, 1979 at the River Inn in Richmond, British Columbia.
Please contact Dr. Neill or the Secretary of the Chapter (Mr. Robin Gardner) at the Office of The
Botanical Garden for further information.
Climatological Summary'
Data                                                         1979
Average maximum temperature
15.8 °C
18.1 °C
Average minimum temperature
5.5 °C
8.9 °C
10.7 °C
Highest maximum temperature
18.5 °C
21.4 °C
Lowest minimum temperature
1.0 °C
7.5 °C
Lowest grass minimum temperature
-2.6 °C
0.9 °C
Rainfall/no. days with rain
52.2 mm/16
38.3 mm/12
37.4 mm/10
Total rainfall since January 1, 1979
273.9 mm
312.2 mm
349.6 mm
Snowfall/no. days with snowfall
Total snowfall since October 1,1978
9.6 cm
9.6 cm
9.6 cm
Hours bright sunshine/possible
Ave. daily sunshine/no. days total overcast
6.5 hr/3
7.8 hr/0
9.5 hr/1
*Site: The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T1W5
Position: lat. 49°15'29"N; long. 123° 14'58" W. Elevation: 104.4m Zigadenus venenosus, Death-camas, is widely
distributed on open meadow-land throughout
central and southern British Columbia. The
bulbs are very poisonous, and are difficult to
distinguish from the edible bulbs of Camassia
quamash, with which it often grows in coastal
Botanical Garden Staff
Dr. Roy L. Taylor
Supervisor of Operations
Mr. Kenneth Wilson
Research Scientist (Cytogenetics)
Dr. Christopher J. Marchant
Research Scientist (Horticulture)
Dr. John W Neill
Research Technicians
Mrs. Annie Y. M. Cheng
Mrs. Susan P. Johnston
Mrs. Sylvia Taylor
Secretaries to the Office
Mrs. Lorna Anderson
Mrs. Pam Morgan Robin
Plant Accession System
Mrs. Marie T. Shaflik
Miss Margaret E. Coxon
Mr. David A. Tarrant
(Education Co-ordinator)
Mr. A. James MacPhail (Alpine Garden)
Mr. Gordon J. Ramsdale (Nursery)
Mr. Allan A. Rose (B.C. Native Garden)
Mr. A. Peter Wharton
(Marine Drive Garden)
Mr. P. Joseph Rykuiter, Head Gardener
(Area Manager, South Campus)
Mr. Ronald S. Rollo
(Area Manager, Upper Campus)
Mr. Harold Duffill
Mr. Leonard Gibbs
Mr. Robert E. Kantymir
Mr. Murray J. Kereluk
Mr. Paul Kupec
Mrs. Bodil Leamy
Mrs. Elaine V. M. Le Marquand
Mr. Douglas B. McEwan
Mr. Sam M. Oyama
Mr. Collin R. Varner
Mr. Isao Watanabe
Mr. Thomas R. Wheeler
Research Associate
Dr. L. Keith Wade
Special Summer Student Program
Miss Sarah J. Curtis
Mr. Rex Eng
Mr. Maurice Klein
Miss Susan A. Munro Ribes lobbii, Gummy Gooseberry, has very
showy flowers, which are somewhat reminiscent of Fuchsia. The reflexed lobes of the
sepals are vivid chocolate-red and the petals
are creamy-white, often pink-tinged. The fruit
is ornamental, but unpalatable. Its distribution is restricted to coastal southwestern
British Columbia.
Volume 10
Number 2
Summer 1979
Plants That Grow On Serpentine—A Hard Life 21
Eburophyton austiniae (A. Gray) A. A. Heller 30
A Look Into The Past 34
Annual Report 1978 37
Botanical Garden News and Notes 39
Climatology 40


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