May 15, 2024

Cacti in Manitoba - time for a treasure hunt

yes there are cacti found in Manitoba - and more could be known about them. Let's start with what was known in Scoggans 1957 Flora of Manitoba...


Pincushion cacti were represented by a single species: Mamillaria vivipara (Nutt.) Haw. which we currently know in iNat as Escobaria vivipara (Spinystar). All the reports listed were from sandhills. Localities were Lauder, Grande Clariere, Oak Lake, Virden and Spruce Woods Forest Reserve. GBIF lists a single herbarium specimen collected near Routledge in 1959 still listed under Mamillaria and another eight specimens collected between 1950 and 1981. INat observations of this species in Manitoba range from 2009 to last year. If you are a long time observer of these plants and have notes and photos on these plants between 1981 and 2009, uploading them to iNat could help fill in the gap.

Flowering peaks in June. It seems they are found in sunny sandy areas in two general clusters - one stretching from north of Oak Lake down to the US border and the other around Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Probably there are a few other sites not yet documented that exist in the vicinity of the currently known locations in its preferred habitat. Perhaps these are not two separate clusters.

This species is considered Critically Imperiled in Manitoba.


Scoggan also listed two species of Opuntia....fragilis and polyacantha. Opuntia fragilis (Brittle Pricklypear) is reported from a dry granite shore near Falcon Lake and dry sandy prairie in Spruce Woods Forest Reserve. GBIF lists 28 specimens collected between 1945 and 2019. INat observations of this species in Manitoba range from 2010 to this spring.

Flowering peaks a little later than the Spinystar in July. It has been found in many of the same locations as the spinystar. It is also found along rivers in suitable habitat stretching away in both directions from the sandhills. Unlike the spinystar this species is also found outside the southwest corner of the province in the Whiteshell. There is some thought that this additional range may be due to first people's interest in the plant so looking in suitable habitat along known traditional routes may turn up additional plants.

This species is considered Apparently Secure in Manitoba.


Opuntia polyacantha (Plains Pricklypear) was included in Scoggan's Flora from seven reports. The localities were Morden, Oak Lake, Miniota, Aweme, Lauder, St. Lazare, and Millwood. Later authors have thought that these plants were really fragilis.

In a recent exchange with Derek Stephen Hollingshead, he suggested that the scientific community was interested in new observations of Plains Pricklypear in Manitoba. There is a possibility that there might be something lurking in the mass of fragilis populations that wasn't actually fragilis.

A single herbarium specimen of Plains Pricklypear was collected 27 June 1889 from Blind River Manitoba. Checking the Canadian Geographic Names Database that name is associated with a tributary of the Souris River near Melita Manitoba https://geonames.nrcan.gc.ca/search-place-names/unique?id=GADAX Derek plans to verify the identification of this specimen in person in the coming year.

Recently additional populations of Plains Pricklypear have been found in Ontario and in Minnesota. Plants in Manitoba seem like an increasingly likely possibility. Any plants that are located here may contribute to a better understanding of the distribution of Opuntia both now and in the past.



So once you find a pricklypear in the wild and if you have all the time in the world to document it, here's the list of the dream shots....
  1. the whole plant filling the entire frame.
  2. step back from the plant so that it is still visible but so are all its immediate surroundings (other plants, fencelines, shore lines , what have you)
  3. go closer so that two pads are filling the frame - bonus points if you have a ruler in the image
  4. go even closer and take enough images of one or more of the points where the spines are growing from. Identifiers would like to count the spines, judge how long they are (ruler is nice), and get a sense of their character
  5. if you have fruit, flowers or flower buds, an image with the flower/fruit filling the frame from above and from the side.

Take a moment and check that your location is accurate to within 10 metres and not at the nearest cell tower. I know this can be tricky in our patchy signal coverage - you can always go old school and make yourself a little sketch map and fix things when you get back to signal.

@derekstephenhollingshead go ahead and add anything you think is useful in the comments

Posted on May 15, 2024 02:41 PM by marykrieger marykrieger | 6 comments | Leave a comment

April 25, 2024

It starts at midnight....

midnight your time - wherever you are located. The observation period for this years City Nature Challenge runs from the very beginning of April 26 to the very end of April 29. The challenge has become a global Earth week tradition - a four day bioblitz focused on where people live work and play.

Its a great way to celebrate the return of spring here in the north even if the weather can be a bit changeable. The spring bird migration is bringing us new opportunities every day. The tree sap is rising and there are even some insects about whenever the temperature rises above 10 degrees Celsius.

Looking forward to sharing what I find and seeing all the new discoveries!

Posted on April 25, 2024 02:49 PM by marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 19, 2024

Save the Date -- City Nature Challenge April 26-April 29, 2024

Hop on the bandwagon and join those marking off April 26 to 29 to participate in the annual City Nature Challenge - a 4 day bio blitz to connect with nature and collect data on local biodiversity. The longer days and warming temperature change the behaviour of many wild creatures from Canada geese to Wood frogs. The challenge gives us an annual opportunity to show the world what spring looks like where we are.




In Manitoba there are projects set up for Brandon and for Winnipeg. Joining a City Nature Challenge near you connects you to others planning to participate. Each project has a countdown timer and the outline of the boundaries of their particular survey area. Both Manitoba projects have expanded their boundaries a little this year to include more of the nearby natural areas. Learn more about Canada's participation at https://cwf-fcf.org/en/explore/inaturalist/cnc/ or check out the global view at https://citynaturechallenge.org/

Not near any of these? That's okay - join City Nature Challenge 2024: Global Project - for all those observers who would like to contribute but are in Thompson or Churchill; Riding Mountain National Park or the Whiteshell, Pinawa or Emerson - or anywhere at all on earth not included in one of the established CNC survey areas on the four days in question.

Happy first day of spring!

Posted on March 19, 2024 05:01 PM by marykrieger marykrieger | 1 comment | Leave a comment

September 25, 2023

VasCan geographic distribution of Antennaria in Canada

retrieved 2023/09
Y = native | N = excluded | ? = doubtful

Species (# of ssp) BC AB SK MB ON QC YK NT NU Labrador Newfoundland Maritimes
Antennaria alpina Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Antennaria anaphaloides Y Y Y
Antennaria aromatica Y
Antennaria corymbosa Y Y Y
Antennaria densifolia Y Y
Antennaria dimorpha Y Y Y
Antennaria flagellaris Y
Antennaria friesiana (4) N N Y Y Y Y Y Y
Antennaria howellii (4) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Antennaria lanata Y Y
Antennaria luzuloides (2) Y Y
Antennaria media Y Y Y Y
Antennaria microphylla Y Y Y Y Y ? Y Y Y
Antennaria monocephala (2) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Antennaria neglecta Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N N Y
Antennaria parlinii (2) Y Y Y Y
Antennaria parvifolia Y Y Y Y Y N
Antennaria plantaginifolia N N
Antennaria pulchella N N
Antennaria pulcherrima (2) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Antennaria racemosa Y Y
Antennaria rosea (4) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Antennaria stenophylla N
Antennaria umbrinella Y Y Y N N
BC AB SK MB ON QC YK NT NU Labrador Newfoundland Maritimes

Distribution by province is a coarse tool. It represents the state of known data + opinion at a point in time by the data compiler.

It is useful for identifiers to help establish which species may generally be expected to be observed in a province. It also gives a quick picture of the regional patterns.

It can show which species in which provinces where the burden of proof might be set a little higher. For example, places where existing evidence was not enough to convince Vascan that the species is present so the species is marked as N.

Posted on September 25, 2023 03:29 PM by marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 21, 2023

City Nature challenge 1 week away...

Our CNC group will be at the small parking lot on South Drive in Birds Hill Provincial Park at 2pm on Saturday if anyone wants to drop by and say hello. It is on the north side of the drive just before South Drive turns northward towards the east end of the Pine Ridge trail - See you there :)
Mary Krieger

Posted on April 21, 2023 12:35 AM by marykrieger marykrieger | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 08, 2023

Sign up to the City Nature Challenge project nearest you to be updated on activities in your area

The snow has returned to give us one last chance at our winter activities but by mid week temperatures are predicted to be on the rise. Bird migration is definitely underway with eagles and other raptors as well as geese and a few other waterfowl leading the way. Horned larks join the snow buntings in the open fields and gravel roads. Near our southern border, some are already reporting seeing the hardiest of our returning warblers - the yellow rumped.

The City Nature Challenge is set for April 28 to May 1- four days to find wild things living near your in company with others all round the globe. If you join a project, your iNaturalist notifications will include the event journal posts. These often give you updates about event activities.

The Winnipeg Region project is here https://inaturalist.ca/projects/city-nature-challenge-2023-winnipeg-region-mb-canada

If you will be somewhere else in Canada at the time of the challenge, check this list for a project near you...
https://inaturalist.ca/projects/city-nature-challenge-canada-2023-defi-nature-urbaine

If you will be somewhere outside of Canada, check the big list here...
https://inaturalist.ca/projects/city-nature-challenge-2023

Happy spring!

Posted on April 08, 2023 08:53 PM by marykrieger marykrieger | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 19, 2022

Tree Crickets - how to observe

listen in late summer for the long sustained trill (or maybe a metronome like chirp)
go towards the sound - when it is very loud ( or stops in response to your movement) start looking in the tops of the plants that are about a foot to two feet off the ground - if there are goldenrods, start with them
the insect is often in the open but is green and so blends in well
Have fun looking

Posted on September 19, 2022 02:31 PM by marykrieger marykrieger | 2 observations | 5 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2022

Invitation to the Biodiversity Challenge - June 9 - 12, 2022

This challenge is timed later in the spring to provide an opportunity for areas in the more northerly latitudes to show more of their biodiversity. It is currently is a more free-from event - the only structure is that the dates of the challenge are the same across the various groups participating and there is a boundary of some sort.

Historically the event known as BiodiverCity was organized by Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute on the NatureLynx platform and was primarily focused in Alberta. They are withdrawing from organizing the event but encouraging the spirit of the event to continue in whatever way the community feels suitable. I was approached along with others across the prairies to join in on the fun this year.

I have spun up two projects - as it happens I will be in two locations during the event period - so one for each location. (If anyone else would also like a project located where they are during the count period, I would be happy to make one for you - or help you make your own)

Here's the links to the projects ...

Happy observing!
Mary Krieger

Posted on May 20, 2022 02:25 PM by marykrieger marykrieger | 1 comment | Leave a comment

April 20, 2022

Manitoba Botanists Big Year 2022 goes live

Inspired by the news story linked below, Diana Bizecki Robson challenged the Native Plants of Manitoba facebook group to do the 1,000 plant challenge.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/waterloo-region-naturalist-1000-plant-species-1.6415389?fbclid=IwAR0Z1raI1zY2WiO3BR9qhmo83_xdgfvj8_sLILnrZWBT3uZDYpzKxuRsgH8

Though iNaturalist is not mentioned by name in the article - I sure recognize all the people interviewed from their participation there - many of them have helped me out with confirming/correcting my identifications of plants observed here in Manitoba. The current Ontario big year project is here...https://inaturalist.ca/projects/2022-ontario-botanists-big-year

I have made a similar project for Manitoba. Join the project to have your plant kingdom observations added to the event. The event runs from Jan 1 to dec 31 so any observations you have previously made from earlier in the year will also count once you add them. We are now at 4 species. Ready, set, go!

https://inaturalist.ca/projects/manitoba-botanists-big-year-2022

Posted on April 20, 2022 05:36 PM by marykrieger marykrieger | 1 comment | Leave a comment

April 17, 2022