ISSN 1188-603X

No. 475 March 12, 2014 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O. Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2



BOTANY BC 2014 will take place in beautiful Sooke, BC Thursday June 26th to Sunday June 29th 2014.

Field trips may include some of the following: magnificent hike along the San Juan Ridge; an algal extravaganza at Whiffin Spit; the classic west coast trail at East Sooke Park; Sooke Hills Wilderness; and various west coast rainforest-beach trails.

Our main headquarters for BOTANY BC 2014 will be the world famous Pearson College UWC on the woody shores of Pedder Bay in Metchosin.

Additional information including the program and registration will be posted as soon as the details have been finalized. Stay tuned.

BOTANY BC is an annual meeting of botanists and plant enthusiasts of British Columbia and is open to anyone interested in plants. Although BOTANY BC meetings are focused to British Columbia, we welcome all the plant enthusiasts from the neighbouring provinces/states, and from elsewhere in the world.

More information will be available at:

Note: This year's Botany Washington (BotWA 2014) will be held May 16-18 out of Brooks Memorial State Park. Highlights include Lomatium workshop by Mark Darrach, Poaceae workshop by Clay Antieau, and evening presentations by Jim Reveal (Erigogonum) and Ben Legler (Revising Flora of the Pacific Northwest). More info can be found here:


From: Dara Peat

Burns Bog, the only Canadian RAMSAR site (Fraser River Delta) in coastal British Columbia, is in danger. MK Delta Lands Group wants to develop 89 acres on the lag of Burns Bog. The development of 1100 condos plus a shopping centre and offices may invade the peat bog in the near future. Burns Bog is a globally unique ecosystem that covers around 3000 ha (7400 acres) of land near the Fraser River in the municipality of Delta, British Columbia, Canada.

It is the largest undeveloped urban wilderness in North America and was designated a RAMSAR site in 2012. Five thousand acres of Burns Bog were purchased by four levels of Canadian Government in 2004. The land that MK Delta wants to develop is part of a 525 acre parcel that the landowner refused to sell. MK Delta site is sandwiched between three parts of the ecological area of Burns Bog and it is a critical part of the Burns Bog "lagg zone". Every bog needs a lagg zone. When lagg zones are destroyed, bogs are destroyed.

According to MK Delta own bio-inventory, submitted in January 2013, the land that MK Delta plans to develop is valuable habitat. The land is likely the home of four endangered species: the Pacific Water Shrew, the Southern Red-backed Vole, the Trowbridge's Shrew, and the Northern Red- legged Frog (the area is moderately to highly suitable habitat for these species). The area is also moderately suitable habitat for breeding songbirds, tree roosting bats, the Western Screech Owl and the Barn Owl. Sandhill Cranes, which are regionally endangered, have been seen 1 km from MK Delta land and the cranes may even feed on the site itself.

Twelve sensitive ecosystems that are "of special concern" or "threatened or endangered," according to BC provincial Government, may be destroyed if MK Delta develops their land.

Despite everything MK Delta Lands Groups continues their push to develop their land. They sent their proposal to Metro Vancouver, the reigning authority on development proposals in the Lower Mainland of B.C. in July 2013. Metro Vancouver sent the proposal back asking that the Corporation of Delta hold public hearings on the proposal. Delta has not done so yet.

Numerous letters have been sent to the Corporation of Delta opposing MK Delta development and over 6000 people have signed an online petition and a print petition opposing MK Delta development proposal. The people of Delta and the Burns Bog Conservation Society are waiting. The future of Burns Bog lies in the balance. The online petition is on the Burns Bog Conservation Society's website,

Further Reading:

Hebda, R. J., Gustavson, K., Golinski, K., & Calder, A. M. (2000).
Burns Bog Ecosystem Review-Synthesis Report for Burns Bog, Fraser River Delta, South- western British Columbia. Canada, Environmental Assessment Office, Victoria, BC. Available at URL:

See also:
and several other BEN articles related to Burns Bog. Use the Subject Index at and look for "Burns Bog".


From: Garry Fletcher - abbreviated from

Introduced species are no doubt one of the most serious challenges for us in the effort to preserve ecological integrity*. Occasionally however we can mete out a death sentence to an innocent which can have serious consequences. This post is about one such occurrence with the native marsh/estuary grass Phragmites australis subsp. americanus Saltonst., P.M.Peterson & Soreng.

When we first bought our property on William Head Road, I was intrigued with the variety of ecosystems that could fit into one small 4 hectare piece of land. One such ecosystem was the seasonally flooded salt marsh at the foot of the property. In that marsh were two populations of a very tall ( 2-3 metre) marsh reed grass.

In the mid-1980s, I asked one of our members of * MEASC, Robert Prescott-Allen to identify the species for me and he came up with the genus name Phragmites. He indicated that it used to be more common in our coastal estuaries, but it had been destroyed in the early years with cattle trampling and grazing. Now it only occurs in limited populations in BC and in some populations along the Oregon Coast.

When I made the website MetchosinCoastal (, I included a profile on the marsh with images of this plant on the Taylor Beach/Gooch Creek page.

Fast forward twenty years or so until 2009. I received a call from the Invasive Plant Coordinator, British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations. The BC government officer indicated that there were 9 populations of the introduced species Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. in BC and it was their mandate to control all of them. She came out to the farm, took samples and pictures. I sent her pictures of the extent of the grass in the marsh over the last few years indicating it really hadn't spread that much. She made reference to a sample in the RBC museum which had been collected from our pond in 1992 which was identified as the introduced variety.

She indicated she would be out with a crew in the fall to cut the plants to the ground and spray with the herbicide Glyphosate, in spite of the fact that this is next to a sea-run cutthroat stream!

When the call came that they were coming out, I started to do research on the species. I valued this plant as a great nesting habitat for red-winged blackbirds, and in the summer they get infested with aphids, providing food to wasps, marsh wrens and other birds. In addition, the hollow stems made excellent homes for Mason Bees.

I referred to a website from the Government of Oregon, which gave a comparison on the physical features of native, (Phragmites australis subsp. americanus) and introduced species samples. It looked very much like the native species to me, with most of the morphological characteristics corresponding. It also indicated that DNA analysis of tissue samples was the only definitive way to determine the genotype of the species.

I told the Invasive Plant EDRR Coordinator when she showed up with her crew of two to "remove it" that I would not allow it unless it was proven to be the invasive by DNA analysis. So far I have not heard back from her.

In December of 2013, I was contacted by a wetlands restoration company from Nanaimo, BC about the population, as they found out from the RBC museum that our population was the native variety. I had not heard this yet so I contacted Dr. Ken Marr at the museum, and he indicated that DNA tests had been done and that it was indeed the native species.

Ken Marr writes: "At this very moment I happen to be at UVIC looking at the raw data from the DNA analysis that was mostly completed a year ago. We have been doing a parallel study of morphology and DNA of 140 or so samples of Phragmites. Long story short, we have determined from the DNA analysis, that the populations on your land are the native genotype. In fact, the analysis of the sample from your land convinced the coordinator of the value of doing the DNA analysis since she had thought the plants on your land were the invasive genotype. Her conclusion may have been based upon the misidentified specimen collected in 1992(?) from your land ... All who have worked on this group acknowledge that for some individual plants, it is difficult to be certain which genotype to which a plant belongs, however DNA markers are viewed to be unambiguous."

So having regained its "native species" reputation it is protected. The moral of the story is that we must not act impulsively on eliminating introduced species unless we are absolutely certain of the species, and in the case of Phragmites, DNA testing is a minimum requirement before extirpation is promoted.

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