News from the Center for Plant Conservation
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Dear CPC Friends,

After an energizing Board of Trustees meeting in Florida, late January, we returned to torrential rains, mudslides and overflowing reservoirs in California. The talk at staff meetings was not about the havoc the storms were creating, but rather the promise of an abundant wildflower bloom in the desert this spring. For me, this captures the essence of people who work to save plants.

From the first pack of seeds you bought as a kid to the hours we’ve spent in labs examining germplasm, we all hold this sense of hope and promise of new growth. These feelings of hope and promise were very much a part of the National Native Seed Conference I attended in Washington, DC this month. While in Washington, DC, I joined my colleagues in speaking with Congressional staff about the importance of native plant research, botanical science, and ensuring rare plants are protected.

The work of Center for Plant Conservation and our Participating Institutions is key to protecting rare plants. On her recent trip to Colorado, CPC’s Chief of Science, Joyce Maschinski worked with Dr. Christina Walters, Research Lead at the National Lab for Genetic Resources Preservation Collection in Fort Collins to begin updating seed storage guidelines. With our geneticist colleagues Dr. Jennifer Ramp-Neal (Denver Botanic Garden), Kayri Havens, Jeremie Fant and Andrea Kramer (Chicago Botanic Garden) and Dr. Christine Edwards (Missouri Botanic Garden) to update guidelines for genetic sampling. In light of this work, we are highlighting the work of Participating Institutions in the Southwest. Stay tuned - we will round out our Southwest story when we focus on the work in Arizona in the next issue. And the desert blooms should be in full force by then.

Please feel free to share any comments by emailing me at

John R. Clark, President and CEO

Updates from our Participating Institutions
Conserve and Restore - Monitoring and protecting rare plants in the Southern Rocky Mountain region is important to Denver Botanic Gardens. But they are also working to improve habitat quality and conserve and restore biodiversity through active ecological restoration. They have “active programs related to ex situ and in situ conservation and monitoring of rare plants, biodiversity surveys of regional flora, restoration, phenology, conservation genetics, phylogenetics, and taxonomy.” One major, multi-year project is at Denver Botanic Garden’s Chatfield Farms. This 700 acres of land is described as “a mosaic of plant communities that can be divided into three broad categories: agricultural pasture, grasslands, and riparian plant communities.” The current goal is restoration of degraded riparian habitat along Deer Creek. A key objective for this project is to educate visitors about the need for restoration work to protect waterways. Read more information on the Chatfield Farms project here. (Photo @ Scott Dressel-Martin)

Motion-Capture Technology - At Red Butte Garden, protecting and restoring at-risk plant species is an integral part of their mission. Mitigating the threats these plants face and preserving their genetic information are vital. By doing this, rare populations have a chance to recover in native habitats. This, in turn, conserves the diversity of the native Utah flora. To examine interactions between native plants and their pollinators, scientists at Red Butte Garden are using a new motion-capture technology called Rana to help determine what insects visit which types of flowers, and answer questions about how best to restore these interactions in Utah. You can watch demonstration videos here and here. Such biodiversity is critical to natural and human ecosystems – destroying a species destroys its potential benefits to all of us, both now and in the future. Read more about the many projects conducted by Red Butte Garden, such as the seed banking efforts and germination and propagation trials, along with Rana, here.

Genebanks - CPC has enjoyed over 30 years of collaboration with the National Lab for Genetic Resources Preservation located in Fort Collins, CO.  NLGRP is USDA’s genebank and, with nearly a million samples, is one of the largest plant genebanks in the world. NLGRP focuses on preserving plant germplasm from species of agronomic interest and their wild relatives. They have an active research group dedicated to understanding how to make collections of genetic resources and store them so they stay alive for decades or longer.  Sometimes this involves cryopreservation. For example, the photograph above is a picture of shoot tips from mint, surrounded by a solution of cryoprotectants and cooled in liquid nitrogen.  A problem with many CPC collections is that no one knows how long the seeds will stay alive. NLGRP is developing clever tools, like a breathalyzer test, to “sniff” aging so we don’t need to use up precious seeds by testing them. NLGRP helps back-up CPC collections in Fort Collins. They also share their technologies to ensure the 1750 plant genebanks of the world can preserve genetic resources.  In an ever-changing world, preserving genetic diversity is vital. Read more here.
MEET JENNIFER NEALE, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH & CONSERVATION - Jennifer Neale is the Director of Research & Conservation at Denver Botanic Gardens, leading the team of scientists working to document and conserve the natural heritage of the Southern Rocky Mountain region. She is a regional leader in rare plant conservation and is also an author of the Colorado Rare Plant Strategy. Her area of expertise is in utilizing genetic tools to address questions related to Colorado’s most rare and imperiled plants.  She collaborates with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to address genetic questions in several federally listed species through the use of molecular tools and conducts long-term demographic monitoring of several species to track population dynamics. A Colorado native, Jennifer earned her Doctorate from the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder. She has been with the gardens for 10 years. She has been a Board Member-at-Large for the Colorado Native Plant Society since 2007. When not at work, she enjoys spending time skiing and playing soccer. She has two young daughters and a husband who don’t complain too much when she spends time keying out plants on hikes.

MEET DANIELA ROTH, STATE BOTANIST & PROGRAM MANAGER - Daniela Roth was born and raised on the French border in southwestern Germany.  At the age of 19 she fell in love with the great American West and decided to immigrate into the United States.  She received a Bachelor Degree from Oregon State University in Botany and Wildlife and a Master‘s Degree in Fire Ecology, studying the impacts of forest conversion on tropical dry forests in Mexico.  From 1997 to 2009 she worked for the Navajo Natural Heritage Program, promoting rare plant conservation and documenting rare plant occurrences from the backcountry of the 17 million acre reservation of the Navajo Nation. Prior to coming to New Mexico she worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the conservation and recovery of rare and endangered plants of the spectacular landscapes of southern and central Utah.  Since 2012 she is the State Botanist and Program Manager for the Endangered Plant Program within the New Mexico Forestry Division where she continues her work on endangered plant conservation issues and documentation. Daniela is also the first author, coordinator, and facilitator of the New Mexico Rare Plant Conservation Strategy.

PLANT OF THE MONTH - Skiff Milk-vetch (Astragalus microcymbu)s is a freely branching perennial with large, inflated pods and grayish foliage. Its name means 'little boat', which refers to the fruits that resemble an inverted skiff. Its original discovery was very perplexing to Astragalus expert Dr. Barneby and University of Colorado botanist William A. Weber. On July 20th of 1945, Dr. Barneby found a few plants in Gunnison County, Colorado. He attempted to find enough for further study. After 10 years of searching, Weber finally located more plants. They could not decipher how this species could have arrived in the area and projected that the species might have been introduced. Another botanist, Joseph Basin, disagreed but couldn’t find any more populations until 1966. Now the species is believed to occur in and near the South Beaver Creek drainage.
NEWS: The Botanical Sciences and Native Plant Materials Research, Restoration and Promotion Act (aka the “Botany Bill”) was introduced by Representative Quigley (D-IL) and co-sponsor Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) this month. The bill aims to increase the botanical science capacity of the federal government. It allows federal agencies to act with the expertise required to preserve unique American landscapes and emphasizes the importance of protecting native plants and plant ecosystems. Read more about the Botanical Science Bill Introduced in the House.

Join us May 4-6, 2017 at San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) for the Center for Plant Conservation National Meeting 2017. This year’s meeting will be held across the three campuses of SDZG – San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and the Institute for Conservation Research at the Beckman Center.
Registering for the CPC meeting is all on-line. To register, please go to the following link:


Center for Plant Conservation National Headquarters
15600 San Pasqual Valley Rd.
Escondido, CA 92027-7000
(760) 796-5686

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