On Sunday September 27th, the Greater Victoria Green Team in collaboration with BC Parks had the unique opportunity to protect red-listed Phantom Orchid by removing English Ivy and Daphne from its surrounding habitat. Phantom Orchid is a white, non-photosynthetic, rhizomatous perennial. Flowering stems have 5-20 vanilla scented white flowers, each with a yellow gland on the lower lip. Phantom Orchids are more commonly known as “snow orchids” and are often mistaken for Indian Pipe, which is a similar looking white, non-photosynthetic perennial that occurs in the same types of habitats.
As a “myco-heterotrophic” species, the Phantom Orchid lacks chlorophyll and is unable to photosynthesize. Rather this species obtains nutrients from fungi, which in turn forms an association with a tree species. To facilitate this unique relationship, the majority of the plants structure is underground. Very cool!
Other than the Victoria/Saanich Peninsula, the Phantom Orchid is found in only three other locations in British Columbia: Saltspring Island, south of Harrison Lake and the greater Abbotsford-Mission-Chilliwack area in the Fraser Lowlands. There are only eight existing and two historical populations in all of Canada.
Threats to Phantom Orchids
- This species has limited recovery and recolonization potential due to the tenuous relationship between the orchid, fungus and tree species making artificial propagation (reproduction that involves human intervention) difficult.
- Disturbance activities can negatively impact either the partner tree or the fungal partner.
- Habitat modification and destruction resulting from urban development, timber harvesting and recreational activities such as mountain biking.
- Harvesting of plants by collectors and hobbyists can damage or destroy plants and reduce wild populations.
Thank you to our volunteers: Richard, Deanna, Vanessa, Sandy, Adam, Galaad, Mary, Guy, Roy, Barbara, Andre, Dean, Brian, Arthur, Matt, Terra, Laura, Jacob, Erica, Christina, Meghan, Robyn, Josiah and Grace! In total the 22 of us logged 40 hours (that’s a week’s work for one person!)!
Thank you to BC Parks for your collaboration and hard work. It was fantastic working with you and we look forward to next time!
A Photo Albums from the day are found here: 1st Session & 2nd Session!
- In total 22 GVGT volunteers came out and removed 4 cubic metres of English Ivy and Daphne in Gowlland Tod Park. Our efforts totalled more than 40 volunteer hours!
- 9 people were introduced to the park and 8 people had never removed invasive species before!
- Thank you to our in-kind sponsors who donated thank you gifts to our community: EarthRated dog poop bags, tea lights from Honey Candles, Lush hard perfume and West Coast Seeds.