ISSN 1188-603X

No. 432 January 20, 2011 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


From: Frank Lomer, e-mail:

The Fraser River is British Columbia's major river system; it flows entirely within BC, draining nearly 25% of the province. The headwaters lie in the Rocky Mountains near Mt Robson and included in its drainage basin are such major rivers as the Nechako, Chilcotin, Thompson and Pitt. It cuts through the Coast Mountains in the Fraser Canyon in a speedy fashion from Lytton to Hope, where it slows, flattens, and slightly meanders in a more or less straight line through the Fraser Valley to empty into the Pacific Ocean at the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the Mainland. Virtually all of the water comes from sources within BC, save a small portion of the Sumas and Chilliwack drainages which originate in Washington State. There are no dams on the Fraser and relatively little heavy industry on its shores. Urban and industrial expansion along the lowland shores are the major threats to its well-being.

The Fraser Valley is a fertile floodplain that stretches about 150 km from Hope to Vancouver, hemmed in by mountains to the north and most of the South to near Sumas.

The United States forms the border from Sumas to Surrey and White Rock. The river shore is botanically interesting as the Fraser makes its way from the end of the canyon where rapid flowing water deposits coarse rock, gravel and sand to form islands and shores that dry to drought conditions by summer's end when the high waters have receded. Here can be found plant species that get washed down the river from their usual home in the dry interior: Apocynum cannabinum L., Clematis ligusticifolia Nutt., Gaillardia aristata Pursh, Sporobolus cryptandrus (Torr.) A. Gray, Toxicodendron rydbergii (Small ex Rydb.) Greene, and others. Even the occasional Pinus ponderosa C. Lawson and Juniperus scopulorum Sarg. can be found on a few islands. These sprout up from cones that get washed down the river in flood times, rarely making it to medium-sized trees. But everything eventually gets washed away over time by the relentless scouring of spring runoff which peaks in June. Extensive dyking and channelling in the Fraser Valley limit the natural late spring floods. Further downstream in the central valley near Chilliwack, the waters slow and finer materials accumulate to form sandy bars and shores. The scouring is less intense and more stable plant communities are maintained. The dominant species here are Alnus rubra Bong., Betula papyrifera Marsh., Cornus stolonifera Michx., Populus trichocarpa Torr. & A. Gray ex Hook., and Salix sessilifolia Nutt. The receded shorelines are sandy washes with rounded stones which are stabilized with perennials dominated by Artemisia lindleyana Besser, Elymus canadensis L., Gaillardia aristata Pursh, Symphyotrichum subspicatum (Nees) G.L. Nesom, and Phalaris arundinacea L. Past Chilliwack towards Langley and the confluence with the Pitt River in Pitt Meadows and Coquitlam, the waters slow further, even to the point of going in reverse with the tidal influence of the sea. The substrate becomes mud and fine sand and the vegetation changes to marshy shores and inundated mud flats. This habitat is among the most botanically interesting to be found in BC and supports many rare species. Finally, at the very end, the waters are calmed to a standstill at times and the shoreline is a thickly matted mass of tidal marshland vegetation that slowly shifts to salt-influenced estuarine species such as Bolboschoenus maritimus (L.) Palla, Carex lyngbyei Hornem., Schoenoplectus pungens (Vahl) Palla, and Triglochin maritima L. The Fraser delta is a rich and important wetland, especially for migratory waterfowl, but it also lies in the southern suburbs of Greater Vancouver, so the natural landscape is being slowly destroyed little by little. The entire Fraser Valley is undergoing relentless urbanization that shows no signs of stopping. The Conservation Data Centre, BC Ministry of Environment, initiated a survey of the rare vascular plants of the Fraser Valley during the summer of 2008.

In 2009 and 2010 I made many more trips in my kayak to continue to search for rare plants. The following is a list of all the known rare vascular plant species in the Faser Valley in the lowland zone up to approximately 150 m elevation. Included are four species [_Bidens vulgata Greene, Chamaesyce serpyllifolia (Pers.) Small, Eleocharis ovata (Roth) Roem. & Schult., and Heterocodon rariflorum Nutt.] new to the Fraser Valley discovered during this survey.

(Continuation in BEN # 433)


The Scottish Rock Garden Club is pleased to introduce an online magazine - International Rock Gardener. The aim is to feature fine photographs, showing the beauty of alpines and wild flowers in their mountain or wilderness homes and in garden situations and give brief comments on cultivation, in an easily readable format.

The IRG team is Margaret Young, Zdenek Zvolánek and Ian Young, who are compiling each issue from material received from gardeners and travellers who share this love of rock garden plants. Each issue is a mix of photo based items, our target being a maximum of plants in the wild and in gardens, from photographers in different countries.

Pacific Northwest botanists will enjoy Hans Roemer's Fine alpines from British Columbia's northern mountains published in the April 2010 issue:

I would like to see the RSS alert on this web site, but the Scottish Rock Garden Club decided not to include RSS feeds on their sites. When I asked why they don't use the RSS feeds, I learned that "it was a conscious decision taken some time ago" since they "want to encourage folks to drop in to pick up information and perhaps stick around to see what else there is on the site." Isn't this the very function of RSS feeds?


Caplow, Florence & Susan A. Cohen. [editors] 2010. Wildbranch: An Anthology of Nature, Environmental, and Place-based Writing. [Foreword by H. Emerson Blake] University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah. 320 p. ISBN 978-1-60781-124-4 [soft cover] Price: US$17.95

TO ORDER: phone 8006212736 fax 8006218476 email: PUBLICITY INQUIRIES: Linda Manning, Marketing Manager phone: 801-585-9786 fax: 801-585-3365 email:

Wildbranch: An Anthology of Nature, Environmental, and Place-based Writing is a powerful collection of essays and poetry-most of which are previously unpublished-by a variety of prominent American environmental writers and exciting new voices. It offers the reader glimpses into places as diverse as a forest in West Africa, the moors of Ireland, the canyons of the Sonoran desert mountains, and the fields of New England, and they reflect the varied perspectives of field biologists, hunters, farmers, environmental educators, wilderness guides, academics, writers, and artists. The collection is an intimate portrait of the natural world drawn through the wisdom, ecological consciousness, and open hearts of these exceptional contributors.

The Wildbranch Writing Workshop, cosponsored by Orion magazine and Sterling College, has encouraged thoughtful natural history, outdoor, and environmental writing for more than twenty years. The Wildbranch faculty has included its founder Annie Proulx, the essayists Edward Hoagland, Janisse Ray, and Scott Russell Sanders, the poet Alison Hawthorne Deming, and many other notable authors. Many have work included in the anthology.

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