white adder's mouth orchid

The malaxis brachypoda, also known as the white adder's mouth orchid. (United States Department of Agriculture)

The rare white adder's mouth orchid has been documented for the first time on Prince Edward Island.

Sean Blaney, executive-director of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, made the discovery on a patch of land near the national park on P.E.I.'s north shore last summer.

“It was exciting and rewarding. It's one of the things that you're always hoping to find. It had probably been there for hundreds, or thousands more likely, of years, but had never been discovered by people before,” he said.

“It's a plant that requires soils that are non-acidic and those are relatively uncommon on the landscape. It's also hard to find, it requires some expertise and usually tromping around in coniferous swamp.”

Blaney also found a rare plant called water whirlgrass, and another called downy willow-herb.

The conservation centre has over 40,000 records of extremely rare and uncommon species in the Atlantic region, with 2,000 from P.E.I.

Blaney says the orchid is on a patch of land that is not part of the national park, but he feels the government should consider acquiring the land in order to protect the rare orchid.

Parks Canada says at this time it does not have plans to acquire additional lands.