coastal manroot, Marah oregana, Canada’s rarest and most threatened plant species

2017 May 25 photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

Canada’s rarest and most threatened plant species, with only one viable populations on a steep ridge above Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island, is,

coastal manroot, Marah oregana (Cucurbitaceae – Cucumber family).

2017 May 25 photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

This is the more northerly of the six manroot species and this particular population is the most northerly occurrence of this species. Manroot have large perennial roots that live for centuries, can take two decades to become reproductively mature, and require two roots to reproduce (like any good cucumber!), and is relatively rare. On Salt Spring Island, the 3 to 6 metre vines extend from the roots every April and dry out and disintegrate by the time that the cucumber fruit mature in September. Unless most other cucumbers, the seeds are relatively large and heavy. From the Gulf and San Juan Islands this species occurs sporadically near the coast as far south as the mountains of Los Angeles County.

2017 May 25 photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

At the northern end of this species’ range, the Salish cultivated this wild cucumber and used the fruit as one of their most powerful anti-viral medicines — crucial after the coming of syphilis.

This population remains unprotected. This population above Fulford Harbour was declared ‘endangered’, federally, in 2009 but the Harper Cabinet could not bother to give it legal protection. A few years ago, one of the landowners for this area bulldozed some of the old roots but the population is hanging on and shifting down the hill above Fulford Community Hall.

2017 May 25 photograph taken jointly by Jan Steinman, Ecoreality Cooperative & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram, KEXMIN field station

The Humet’utsun (Mount Maxwell) Protected Landscape, Salt Spring Island: Ongoing monitoring & assessment

Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve – This Douglas fir snag is at the northern end of the original exclosure, built by the Ecological Reserves Branch of the Province of British Columbia in the mid-1980s, and is in the original parcel that comprised the Ecological Reserve when it was established in 1971. Sansum Narrows is in the distance. photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram on 2017 September 14

KEXMIN field station includes scientists and conservation planners who have been conducting research on the indigenous cultural landscapes, ecosystems, and species at risk on wild South and West Coasts of Salt Spring Island, including the ecological reserves, going back to 1979.

Sansum Narrows vista from Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, August 1993 photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram

***

The current work in the area involves a number of interim reports for a range of clients.

Interim Report on the Status of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, as part of the Hwmet’utsun Protected Landscape, Salt Spring Island

contents

executive summary………………………………………………………………… 2

introduction & problem statement ………………………………………………….6

ecological reserve history & landscapes ……………………………………………7

some conservation roles of this ecological reserve…………………………………11

global trends & longer-term management imperatives …………………………….23

management & sites from 1973 to present …………………………………………31

destructive activities warranting timely interventions ………………………………34

some short-term solutions to minimize further damage ……………………………47

recommendations for conservation strategies, advocacy & policy………………59

Appendix One – Map of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve………………………63

Appendix Two – A shore area of the ecological reserve…………………………….64

 

Algae on an older Garry oak tree (with thick bark that protects from fire). This remaining oak savannah, one of the larger fragments of remaining grassland on Hwmet’utsun, is in the higher part of the southern parcel of Mt Maxwell Ecological Reserve that was purchased by NatureServe in 2001 and made part of the Ecological Reserve in 2002. These grasslands were maintained by Salish burning that continued into the 1930s. photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram on 2017 September 14 * Non-vascular plants such as these are increasingly valuable as indicators of local, regional, and global change.

 

 

 

This remaining oak savannah, one of the larger fragments of remaining grassland on Hwmet’utsun, is in the higher part of the southern parcel of Mt Maxwell Ecological Reserve that was purchased by NatureServe in 2001 and made part of the Ecological Reserve in 2002. These grasslands were maintained by Salish burning that continued into the 1930s. photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram on 2017 September 14

Some landscape ecologies of the Hwmet’utsum, Mount Maxwell & Burgoyne Bay, Cowichan cultural and conservation area & Tsing 2015 A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene

drone video of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, Salt Spring Island taken by Ben Taft on January 5, 2017 in cooperation with KEXMIN field station

 

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing – A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene: Earth Stalked by Man, November 10, 2015 Barnard Center for Research on Women, Barnard College, New York

Anna L. Tsing is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Santa Cruz, and the acclaimed author of several books including Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen.