Archive for the ‘Rare Plants’ category

Report: Only 39 percent of North American endangered plant species are protected in collections.

February 7, 2011

Washington, D.C. – Only 39 percent of the nearly 10,000 North American plant species threatened with extinction are protected by being maintained in collections, according to the first comprehensive listing of the threatened plant species in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Seed banks or living collections maintained by public gardens and conservation organizations across North America provide an insurance policy against extinction for many threatened species.

The North American Collections Assessment – conducted collaboratively by Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S., the U.S. Botanic Garden, and Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum – found that 3,681 of 9,494 of North America’s most threatened plant species are maintained in 230 collections. Much more collaborative work is needed to conserve North America’s botanical wealth and to provide true protection against extinction, says the report, Conserving North America’s Threatened Plants, released this week

Andrea Kramer, Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S. executive director, said, “These assessment results are hopeful, but also a call to action. For many public gardens, this report marks the first time their potential to assist in the conservation effort has been recognized. We hope this is a watershed moment.”

“As the U.S. Botanic Garden, we felt a critical need for a common baseline of understanding among the entire conservation community,” said Ray Mims, one of the authors. “To move forward together to protect North America’s native plants, we have to understand where we are today. Now that we know both what is threatened and what needs to be protected, there is a solid foundation on which to build future conservation work.”

“One of the lessons we learned from this assessment is how important it is to curate for conservation,” said Michael Dosmann, curator of living collections at the Arnold Arboretum. “Curators and horticulturists have not always considered conservation value as they go about their routines. Yet by participating in this assessment, many for the very first time saw the direct value of their plants in bolstering efforts to conserve our threatened flora. We hope this becomes a new paradigm in collections management.”

Assessment results indicate that North America did not reach the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation’s (GSPC) Target 8 goal set in 2002 of protecting 60 percent of threatened plant species in collections by 2010. While botanical organizations across Canada, Mexico and the United States are making progress to achieve these targets, the report found that 3,500 or more additional threatened plant species will need to be added to current collections to meet the new GSPC goal of conserving 75 percent of known threatened species in North America by 2020. This will require nearly doubling the current capacity.

The assessment calls for the strengthening of conservation networks and collaboration in conservation planning and data sharing. Institutions are urged to contribute plant lists to BGCI’s PlantSearch database and update them regularly. It is crucial to increase cooperation and coordination among a broad and diverse network of gardens and conservation organizations with different expertise and resources. To win this race against extinction, conservation organizations will need to prioritize the development of genetically diverse and secure collections to ensure meaningful protection of threatened plants.

Additional information and the full report can be found at

Long Island Flora Sampler 2010

January 25, 2011

If you are tired of the frigid cold and mountains of snow, here is a sampling of  some of my favorite photos from the summer of 2010 that I took during my travels around Long Island. Something to look forward to next field season. Keep abreast of our newsletter and calendar for announcements of future NYFA field trips for 2011. You can click on the photos for a larger image- Steve Young

Welcome to the Hempstead Plains in Nassau County where volunteers work hard to preserve a remnant of the Hempstead Plains grasslands.

Looking west across the plains dominated by little bluestem and other grasses.

A salt marsh on Shelter Island's Mashomack Preserve.

An inlet of the salt marsh at Mashomack.

Bracken ferns line the sandy roadsides on a cloudy day.

You need a good search image to count the long basal leaves of the rare Platanthera ciliaris, orange fringed orchid.

Platanthera ciliaris, orange fringed orchid, in bud on the South Fork.

A new cone of pitch pine at Hither Hills.

The shiny rust-colored capsule of the rare Crocanthemum dumosum, bushy rockrose help identify it in late summer.

The cool fog blows over the dunes at Napeague.

On the road to the Shelter Island Ferry is the only place I have see grape vine grow all the way across the road on electric lines. How come this doesn't happen more often?

A little crab spider on a flower of the rare salt marsh plant Sabatia stellaris, sea pink.

New Rare Plant Finds in NY State Parks During 2010

January 8, 2011

From Kim Smith – NY Natural Heritage State Parks Botanist

This was an exciting year for botanical discoveries in New York state parks. Everyone heard about the federally-threatened Isotria medeoloides (small whorled pogonia) that turned up in Orange County in May. But there were eight more new state-rare plant populations documented in state parks this year.

Five of these species were found on Long Island, which was a focus area for the NYNHP state parks surveyed this year.  Three of the species found are listed as state-endangered; these are Juncus brachycarpus (short-fruit rush, S1) at Montauk Point State Park, Bartonia paniculata ssp. paniculata (twining screwstem, S1) at Connetquot River State Park, and Polygonum aviculare ssp. buxiforme (Small’s knotweed, S1) at Hither Hills State Park. The discovery of another population of short-fruit rush is particularly exciting, as there is only one other extant population known in the state. The other two species found on Long Island are Eupatorium torreyanum (Torrey’s thoroughwort, S2) and Desmodium ciliare (hairy small-leaved tick-trefoil, S2S3), both found at Shadmoor State Park and listed as state-threatened.

Back up north, during additional surveys for Isotria medeoloides, a new population of the state-endangered Endodeca serpentaria (Virginia snakeroot, S2) was discovered at Highland Lakes State Park. At Taconic State Park, Symphyotrichum boreale (boreal aster, S2, threatened) was discovered, and at Chenango Valley State Park, a new population of Botrychium oneidense (blunt-lobe grape-fern, S2S3, endangered) was found.

All of these discoveries point to the need for continued survey efforts for rare plants throughout New York. It’s a big state and we still have a lot to learn!

Boreal aster in Taconic State Park 2010

NY Rare Plant List Now Available in Online Sortable List

December 2, 2010

CLICK HERE to see the New York Natural Heritage Program’s rare plant list that you can sort by family, scientific name, common name, Heritage rank or protected status.

Northeastern Bulrush (Scirpus ancistrochaetus) Rediscovered in New York

August 21, 2010

From Steve Y0ung, NY Natural Heritage Program – This federally-threatened plant is known from Virginia north to Vermont. Learn more about it at the Center for Plant Conservation website HERE.  In New York, there was only one historical collection, from the Putnam Mountain area in Washington County in northeastern New York, from September 1900, and it was listed as extirpated from the state. The location for the historical record has been searched numerous times but no plants have been found again.  In recent years more populations of the bulrush were found in adjacent Vermont and in northern Pennsylvania in a county adjacent to New York. It was frustrating that we couldn’t find it in New York – it was so close by.

This year I received funds from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to look for it again in the Southern Tier of New York to see if there were populations extending north from Pennsylvania.  On the second day of searching small wetlands in Steuben County, south of Corning, I finally found it.  It was growing in a small (40 m diameter) vernal wetland at the top of a hill that I had identified as a place to search using topographic maps and Bing birds-eye-view aerial photos on the web. One month shy of the 110th anniversary of its last collection in New York, it was back in our flora. I spent two more days searching other wetlands in the county, and I have more days to search later in the month so I hope I can discover more populations.  Dr. Rob Naczi from the NY Botanical Garden will also be searching areas near Vermont. Let’s hope he will find some in that area as well.  Stay tuned to this blog . . .

Below are some of the photos from the population in Steuben County.

This is what the wetland looked like as I approached through the hemlock woods.

In the middle was a small open muddy area surrounded by Northeastern bulrush.

The species has rays that arch down from the top of the culm.

The culms usually lay down and root in the mud.

The peripheral open muddy areas had different plant species but the area covered by the bulrush was almost a monoculture.

Soft Fox Sedge (Carex conjuncta) Rediscovered in New York.

August 7, 2010

Botanist David Werier rediscovered this state endangered sedge in Chemung County this summer. It had not been seen in the state since a specimen was collected in 1966 in Rensselaer County and was listed as state historical by the New York Natural Heritage Program. This species is similar to Carex vulpinoidea and Carex alopecoidea and was collected fewer than 10 times before in New York –  in the counties of Chemung, Herkimer, Oneida, Saratoga and Westchester. It may be overlooked because of its similarity to the previously mentioned species and a good description and photos of it with a comparison to those species can be found at the website for Illinois wildflowers. Click here to see the description. Congratulations David! – Steve Young

New Population of the State Threatened Sea-Pink Found on Long Island

August 5, 2010

Luke Ormond found New York’s 9th population of the rare sea pink (Sabatia stellaris) in a salt marsh near Riverhead this week. This beautiful wildflower is only found on the east end of Long Island in New York and makes a good subject for photography. You can see his pictures of the plant on his beautiful blog of Wild Long Island by clicking HERE.  Nice find Luke! – Steve Young