Orchid News # 34

Marilyn HS Light
Canadian, chairs the Education Committee and North American Region, Orchid Specialist Group, and is a Board member of the Canadian Committee - IUCN.
She is a graduate in Agriculture and Microbiology.

ON: Marilyn, what is the focus of your work?
ML: It is varied and mostly curiosity-based research with a conservation education focus. Once I learn something new, I publish either in scientific journals, popular articles or other media. Most of my work is based upon long term behaviour of terrestrial orchid populations in Canada where I first began in 1985 with the introduced European Helleborine orchid, Epipactis helleborine.

ON: But your work includes much more than this. You have received awards and honours for your ongoing conservation work in the Ottawa area. In 2006 you received an award for the dissemination of botanical and horticultural information about native North American orchids. What could you tell us about it?
ML: Our investigations have included pollination biology of the Large Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum v. pubescens), the Showy Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae), and of the Helleborine Orchid. The impact of visitors, photographers and even investigators standing on the ground around terrestrial orchids concerns us so this is one new area that we are investigating further.

ON: Where we can find the results of your work?
ML: Our visitor impact study is featured in an article in the February issue of Orchids, magazine of the American Orchid Society, and was also published in Lankesteriana in 2007. I have also published in Eurorchis, Folia Geobotanica, and conference proceedings. I am a member of Garden Writers of America and contribute to the Orchid Review, Orchids Australia, the Native Orchid Journal and other magazines.

ON: Among all those activities you still find time to grow and cross plants?
ML: I also grow tropical orchids and have registered 20 hybrids. I have found the two parallel interests helpful in the interpretation of some experimental results. As you can imagine, I keep myself busy!

ON: How did you become interested in orchids and their conservation?
ML: I began my interest in orchids while living in the Caribbean (Barbados) when I attended my first orchid show. This eventually led me to write several books including Growing Orchids in the Caribbean and Container Gardening in the Caribbean and Tropics, published by Macmillan Education. My interest in conservation is from childhood.

ON: Thank you very much, Marilyn

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