Botany Outing Report: Palaeobotany, Jan 8th, 2018

Happy New Year!

Presentation on January 8th 

On January  8th  we were treated to a fascinating presentation  by Randal Mindell on the palaeobotany of our back yard, the Comox Valley; we learnt about the importance of the fossil plant record and what it tells us about climate change. In the valley there are a number of excellent locations for fossil plant material, including the Cumberland Mines, the river banks of the Puntledge, Trent and others, the seashores in the Oyster River area, and of course Hornby Island.  We were shown the methodology for obtaining information from cross-sections of sandstone or mudstone concretions through acetate peels (see illustration attached). The acetate film will strip off fragments of wood, seeds, roots and leave of gymnosperms and angiosperms that can then be examined under the lenses of a high-powered microsope.

In fine paedagogic form, Randal summarized at the end what he had covered in the presentation – for your information here is that summary.

  • Late Cretaceous (85-70 million years ago):

Lowland swamp and estuary thousands of kilometers to the south, 10? warmer
Ginkgo, Cycadeoids and other exotic gymnosperms
Ancient flowering plants groups- some still present in the area (Cornus), others long gone (Liriodendron,Platanaceae)

  •  Eocene (~45 million years ago):

Beeches, Walnuts, Laurels and many elements now restricted to tropical and subtropical climates.

  • Post-Glacial community migrates onto barren landscape from the south starting around 14000 years ago, with pine forests giving way to Tsuga (Hemlock), Thuja (Cedar) and Alnus (Alder). Coast Western Hemlock Biogeoclimatic Zone established.   “Old Growth” forest patches in the area represent remnants of natural landscapes that have developed over 13,700 years.


Monday February 20th  –  Mosses in Seal Bay Park with Randal in the lead.

This will be a week later than usual because of “BC Family Day”. Time and specific location will be announced closer to the time.

all the best,  Alison

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Botany Outing Report: Labrador climate warming, Dec 4th, 2017

Greetings Botanists.

Report on the December 4th meeting.

We were treated to a fascinating presentation by Luise Hermanutz ( (Professor in the Biology Department, Memorial University, Newfoundland) on the research project monitoring the impact of climate warming in the tundra of  the Torngat Mountains in Labrador on the lives of humans, fauna and flora.  We were introduced to the ecology of the area, the joys of bugs and bears, and to a range of beautiful wildflowers, including the native dandelion, moss campion and of course Labrador tea. Luise has provided a link to the publication on flora that included the Inuit names of plants and information on traditional uses:

Our plants… Our land / Plants of Nain and Torngat Mountains Basecamp & Research Station (Nunatsiavut)

Announcement Reminder

Monday December 18th, 12.30 pm  – our Christmas Potluck lunch. Helen Robinson has kindly offered to host this gathering again this year. Please phone Helen to confirm that you will be coming, so that she knows how many to expect.  After lunch we usually share with the group whatever has been a highlight in the year for each of us botany-wise.

Upcoming Events

On the 2nd Monday in January, that is January 8th ,  Randal Mindell will give us a presentation on the palaeobotany of our own back yard –  “Ancient Plants of the Comox Valley: 85 Million Years of Plant Evolution and Vegetation Changes” . That will be a lot to compress into an hour! Randal has a background in Geology and Botany, with a doctorate from the U. of A., and has much experience both as a teacher and researcher, including at the UBC Botanical Gardens.

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Upcoming Walk: Sunday, Dec 10th 2017, Seal Bay Park at Fizell Road

Dec 10, Sunday: Seal Bay Park at Fizell Road

Todays’ walk in Seal Bay Park starts at the little used Fizell Road entrance on the west side of the Seal bay Park. Access is via Grieve Road and Langlois Road. The walk is mostly flat, under the tall trees and along well maintained trails.

A link to our CVN website is here:

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Airpark Report 2017

A short report highlighting the work done in the Courtenay River Airpark this year(2017) is now available under Publications.

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