Native Plant Trust

Conserving Native Plants

By the Seed and by the Acre

We fight to save New England's native plants

New England’s native plants and habitats are in trouble. We’ve lost more than half of our grasslands and coastal marshes, 10,000 dams on our rivers negatively affect plant health, and for the first time in two centuries, New England is losing forest. Because native plants compose the habitat for all animals, from black bears to black swallowtails, these losses ripple outward. Eventually, the impacts will shrink our food supply, sap our economy, and dim the beauty of our region.

Native Plant Trust is leading our region's conservation community to save native plants and is the only organization in New England dedicated solely to protecting and restoring rare plant species, and to keeping common plants common.  

We are also at the forefront of global efforts to save rare plants from extinction (see below). We bank their seeds to preserve genetic diversity in the future, restore populations of the most at-risk species, monitor populations of rare plants in every county in New England, and document the health of the 3,300 populations of our 389 globally and regionally rare plants. 

Our field research provides the data for our scientific publications, including our State of the Plants report (see below), Flora Conservanda, and conservation plans for more than 100 rare species throughout the region. Browse these pages to learn more about what we're doing.

State of New England's Native Plants

Read our groundbreaking assessment

Our land-use history and current practices are threatening the postcard beauty of New England—and the plants and animals that call this region home. In our comprehensive report, we look at the health of the region’s iconic landscapes, discuss the critical importance of plant diversity, detail the challenges facing both rare and common plants, and present strategies for conservation action.

This first-in-the-nation report draws on decades of fieldwork by our staff and the more than 1,500 trained volunteers and professional botanists in our New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP). It also incorporates the rich history of botanical research in New England, dating from the arrival of Europeans.

Insights from the report include:

  • In New England, 22 percent of the native plant species are globally rare, endangered or rare in multiple states, or considered historic; 31 percent of plants on the landscape are non-native.
  • Of the 389 imperiled species, 62 are globally rare, and 10 occur nowhere else on earth (only 7 of our globally rare species remain). A single population of a rare plant species may face as many as five different threats, most of which arise from human activity.
  • On average, rare plant species have lost 67 percent of their known range in the region and are also rare in 38 percent of states and provinces outside New England in which they occur.
  • Multiple threats, ranging from land development to widespread pesticide use to invasive species, together undermine the resilience of our native plant communities.
  • Climate change is already affecting New England plant communities and will accelerate if current trends continue. Forest, alpine, coastal, and estuarine species are most at risk.
  • Insect-pollinated plants—the majority of native plants—are in particular trouble and are declining along with the insects that pollinate and rely on them.

The report recommends both research and action to conserve and manage New England’s vibrant flora. As individuals, we can support native plants and their food webs in many ways: by advocating for stronger laws to protect sensitive habitats and rare species, planting native species in our landscapes, avoiding pesticides and herbicides, controlling non–native invasive plants on our land, and educating our children and communities about native plants and their ecological value.

Download State of New England’s Native Plants:

State of the Plants Technical Report

State of the Plants in Brief

Collaborating across the Globe

We extend our impact through national and international partnerships

Plants don't heed boundaries, so plant conservation organizations are more effective when they reach across them. As the recognized leader of native plant conservation in New England, we share valuable expertise, data, and strategies though professional networks at larger scales.

Global Initiatives

Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
In 2010, this initiative of the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diversity set 16 global targets to reach by 2020. We have already accomplished some of these goals, including extensive documentation of our region's flora (Target 1) and a $5 million fund-raising project—the Seed Ark—to collect and permanently store seeds from at least two-thirds of 3,300 populations of New England's 389 globally and regionally rare species (Target 8). 

Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
We also are a partner in this international project, which aims to conserve 25 percent of the world's plants by 2020.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International
We are honored to be among the first small group of organizations worldwide to receive BGCI's accreditation as an Advanced Conservation Practitioner.

National Partnerships

Center for Plant Conservation 
In the 1980s, we co-founded CPC, which is dedicated to the stewardship of imperiled native plants, and today are one of its 57 participating institutions.

Native Plant Conservation Campaign
We are part of this network of native plant organizations throughout the US that is focused on improving legal protections for plants and increasing funding for plant conservation.

Plant Conservation Alliance 
We are a member of this public-private partnership, with a dozen federal agencies and hundreds of private affiliates, which developed the National Framework for Progress in Plant Conservation to coordinate a nationwide approach. 

National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration
We are one of the nonprofit partners in this initiative, which includes a range of federal agencies and is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 

Seeds of Success 
We recently spearheaded the eastward expansion of this BLM program, which previously had focused on collecting wild seed for restoration projects on federal lands in the western US.

North American Orchid Conservation Center
We are a partner of this Smithsonian Institution coalition of organizations across the U.S. and Canada working to conserve North America's 200-plus native orchid species. Its Go Orchids website is built on our Go Botany platform.

Can We Help?

Contract our Conservation experts

Federal and state agencies, municipalities, land trusts, and other conservation organizations often turn to our expert staff to help with restoration, plant surveys, invasive plant control, and other projects.

Services We Offer 

  • Rare and common terrestrial and upland plants: survey, inventory, and mapping
  • Natural communities: survey, inventory, mapping, and long-term monitoring
  • Rare plant conservation: identification, long-term monitoring, and restoration
  • Habitat assessment, management, augmentation, and restoration
  • Invasive plant identification and management
  • Development of conservation and management plans
  • Training programs
  • Consulting services.

We maintain general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. 

Download our info sheet to learn more about our contract conservation services, or contact our Ecological Programs Coordinator: 508-877-7630 x3203.

spruce-fir habitat cover image PDReport

How to Save Plant Diversity

Conserving Plant Diversity in New England, our groundbreaking report produced in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, provides a scientific framework and detailed roadmap for conservation action and land protection at the species, habitat, and parcel scales to save plant diversity—and thus overall biodiversity—as the climate changes. 

Learn More

Expert Guides to Our Region's Flora

Equip yourself with the only comprehensive botanical reference on New England's plants, Flora Novae Angliae, by Senior Research Botanist Arthur Haines. Its user-friendly online counterpart, Go Botany, is available on our main navigation menu at the top of each web page. 

Order Flora Novae Angliae
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