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An Important Conservation Discovery

Nature Conservancy of Canada and J.D. Irving, Limited Find Rare Plant at Risk of Extinction in New Brunswick

Dipper Harbour, N.B. – The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and J.D. Irving, Limited have uncovered a rare plant considered a species at risk in Canada. A joint effort by biologists with both organizations revealed the presence of Van Brunt’s Jacob’s-ladder during a plant survey on J.D. Irving, Limited property along a tributary of Dipper Harbour Creek in south western New Brunswick.

Van Brunt’s Jacob’s-ladder is a delicate flowering plant that produces showy purple flowers during spring and early summer. Van Brunt’s Jacob’s-ladder is only known to exist in a handful of locations in Canada, in New Brunswick and Quebec. This discovery is a new sub population of the plant, which has been found growing at only two sites in the province.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has been working in Dipper Harbour the past two years sharing information with groups and land owners about this federally listed “Threatened” species at risk.  NCC’s project has been supported in part by funding from Environment Canada through the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk.

“In addition to Environment Canada, we thank J.D. Irving, Limited for their cooperation since last fall when NCC first approached them about this project,” said Paula Noel, New Brunswick Program Manager with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.  “NCC will continue sharing this biological data with the provincial Department of Natural Resources and other interested stakeholders to recommend best management of surrounding land to ensure this species, which is at risk of disappearing from the province, remains healthy into the future.”

First identified in the province in the 1880s, the species was thought to be extinct in New Brunswick for decades until it was rediscovered in Dipper Harbour Creek by representatives of the NB Department of Natural Resources and the New Brunswick Museum and again near Lake Utopia by officials from the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre (ACCDC).

"The discovery of the new sub-population of this rare plant is a rewarding result of our longstanding working relationship with NCC," said Kelly Honeyman, Naturalist, J.D. Irving, Limited. "We are proud of our active on-the-ground training of rare plant identification in our woodlands, and we continue to make submissions of discoveries from the woodlands we own or manage to Atlantic Wildlife Database in Sackville, New Brunswick."

Honeyman notes over 460 rare plant sites have been identified as part of the over 1150 sites in JDI's voluntary Unique Areas program.

Noel encourages those who come across Van Brunt's Jacob's-ladder to make note of the location, take photos if possible and report this information. People can contact NCC by e-mail or by phone at 1-877-231-4400

• This plant is  very familiar to gardeners because it looks very much like the Jacob’s-ladder commonly grown in flower gardens. Van Brunt’s Jacob’s-ladder grows near the edges of streams or lakes. It tends to grow in or near cedar swamps, which themselves are a somewhat rare forest type, containing other uncommon species.
• Van Brunt's Jacob's-ladder is  easy to recognize, especially when it is in bloom between June and August. The purple bell-shaped flowers are quite distinctive and the plants grow up to three feet in height. The paired leaves seem to form a ladder up the stem.
• In a story from the Old Testament, the name "Jacob’s-ladder" alludes to a ladder to Heaven, which Jacob saw in a dream. The plant was named in honour of a 19th century naturalist, Mrs. Cornelius Van Brunt.
• Anyone who owns land in Charlotte County with wet areas along a stream or other waterbody can help protect this plant and other wildlife by taking special care of these areas on their property. Following provincial regulations on buffers when cutting trees or making any alteration near streams or lakes and abiding by provincial regulations regarding traveling through wet areas with ATVs are great ways to protect the habitat and wildlife that live there.

Learn More:
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962 NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.6 million acres (over 1 million hectares), coast to coast. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has conserved over 14,800 acres (5,990 hectares) in New Brunswick.  For more information visit Nature Conservancy.
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Media Contact:
Andrew Holland
Communications Director-Atlantic Region
Nature Conservancy of Canada
506-260-0469 (mobile)
Andrew.holland (at)