News from the Center for Plant Conservation
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Dear CPC Friends,

On a recent camping trip in the mountains around San Diego this Spring, I noticed the grassy hillsides were already turning brown. Not what you might think of a springtime landscape. But in Southern California this is typical for this time of year. Depending on where you live, springtime can mean many different things – a late snow, rain and mud, or fields of blooming wildflowers. This month we are checking in with some of our colleagues in various regions in the country to see what Spring means to them.

While our participating institutions face different environmental conditions across the country, many of the challenges to plant conservation are the same. Next month we will report on the proceedings of our annual CPC National Meeting being held in San Diego, May 4-6. I am looking forward to some cutting-edge presentations. In the meantime, wherever you are, enjoy the beauty of this season.

Please feel free to share any comments by emailing me at

John R. Clark, President and CEO

Updates from our Participating Institutions
Appreciate, Educate, and Protect – - Spring is spectacular at the San Diego Botanic Garden! The days are sunny and warm while early mornings remain cool and dew-laden. Everything is lush and the garden is bursting with blooms. Each flower is an educational opportunity, and this is high season for instruction. Young kids are running around from one plant to another, attempting to determine why this plant has small, fuzzy gray leaves while that one has enormous, supple green leaves. However, specimen plants are not the only ones loving the warm, moist soil and sun on their face. Visitors will also notice the mini army of volunteers and staff working tirelessly to monitor and remove invasive plant species from the garden. Notable examples are the Asphodelus fistulosa and Bromus madritensis ssp. rubens, which would be overrunning the Native Plants Native People area  if it wasn’t for the support of guests and docents. Fortunately, the beauty of ancient bluffs laden with Salvia mellifera and Adenostoma fasciculatum flowers and spikey Marah macrocarpa fruits nestled under massive Pinus torreyana trees is untarnished by a few foreign grasses and bits of onionweed.

Spring Parade - Springtime in the Southern Appalachian Mountains is best described as a slow progression of plants coming into bud, leaf and flower. Every trail and hillside begins to color with early flowering bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), trillium (Trillium sp.), redbud (Cercis canadensis) and service berry (Amelanchier arborea). Unlike regions where spring arrives in one day with a burst of every flower, then quickly transitions to warmer temperatures, a Western North Carolina mountain springtime’s weather might be best compared to a petulant child full of kisses and hugs (warm sunny days) that can just as easily crumble into fits and tantrums (cold windy nights with frost and snow flurries). Early spring  wildflowers carpet areas along roadways and trails – dogwood (Cornus florida) flowers expand, violets (Viola sp.) burst into bloom and Jack-in-the-Pulpits (Arisema tryphyllum) emerge. As cooler days give way to warm, the forests and gardens at The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville grow and change: cultivated gardens have early flowering Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), narcissus, and tulips. The Quilt Garden is planted and flowering shrubs fragrance the breeze, delighting visitors. Click here for images of garden exhibits.
Awakening Orchids and Rare Plants - As it is for many CPC institutions, spring at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a time for…panic! Spring in the upper Midwest is usually an abbreviated event. Woodland spring ephemerals are already underway, trying to complete their reproductive cycles before the trees leaf out and cut off the sun. The cascade of phenologically-short windows starts with the flowering of Trillium nivale, followed quickly by Erythronium propullans, Minnesota’s endemic dwarf trout lily. Flowers come and go in the span of a few days and leaves disappear soon after. Northern spring orchids (including Cypripedium arietinum) start flowering and we rush to track populations and start monitoring activities. At the Arboretum the young orchid and rare plant conservation program is undergoing an unusually (hopefully) busy spring this year as salvaged plants are awakened in preparation for various restoration projects and planning construction for a new safeguard garden. See what’s in bloom here! (Photo @David Remucal)
Meet Vivian Negrón-Ortiz, PhD, Botanist - Vivian Negrón-Ortiz, PhD, is a botanist for the US Fish & Wildlife Service in the Panama City Field Office in Florida, and is responsible for endangered and threatened plant species recover in northwest Florida. Through her work, Vivian identifies conservation opportunities for rare endangered plants, developing recovery action priority lists. She led a nationwide conservation initiative for federally listed (as well as candidate and at risk) plants and is currently leading the development of a Conservation Endowment Fund for Florida imperiled plants. Vivian’s first introduction to plant conservation began when she was a researcher at the Fairchild Tropical Garden in the early 1990s. She studied the reproductive biology of an endangered and nearly extinct cactus endemic to the Florida Keys. She has learned that baseline data is necessary to improve management, but also that even though we have enough biological understanding, protection, and management in place, some species will never be recovered and most effort will be allocated to prevent their extinction. Plant advocacy is also essential to overcome an imbalance in laws, budgets, and policies toward plants. The fact is, ‘plant diversity is declining, and plants cannot wait any longer.’
Meet Stephanie Steele, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate - Stephanie Steele is a new postdoctoral associate in Plant Conservation at the San Diego Zoo Global Institute for Conservation Research.  Plants have captivated Stephanie from a young age, when she learned about the immense diversity of plant species in tropical rain forests.  After observing large-scale destruction of tropical forests firsthand during her graduate studies, she became passionate about plant conservation, guided by both scientific research and the needs of local communities.  As a postdoc with SDZG, Stephanie is thrilled to have the opportunity to conduct conservation research for multiple rare and threatened plant species in San Diego County, one of the most biodiverse counties in the country.  She is particularly interested in how an understanding of adaptive genetic variation, uncovered through the use of genomic tools, can help guide conservation efforts.  In collaboration with multiple partners, Stephanie will be assessing genome-wide diversity in both in situ and ex situ populations of the rare pine, Pinus torreyana (Torrey pine).  She plans to focus on variation playing a role in defense against bark beetles, a major threat to the pines.  Stephanie received her Ph.D. in Biology at UCLA and her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Georgetown University.
PLANT OF THE MONTH - Claytonia arkansana, is very rare with a distribution limited to three counties in the Ozark region of Arkansas.  It is a spring ephemeral that grows in limited areas of fairly dry and shaded sandstone bluffs under rock overhangs where the roots seem to creep into rock crevices. The plant does well in both full sun or moderately shaded sites. The plants tend to flower early (late February to early April). According to the work of Albrecht and Penagos Z. (2012) the seeds germinate in the dark and at low temperatures, in dark crevices in late fall/early winter. Originally named Claytonia ozarkensis, the plant was renamed in 2013. For more information on this change, click here.

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.
To register, please go to the following link:

May 18, 2017
Panel Discussion: Biodiversity in the Anthropocene
UCLA Botanical Garden
Los Angeles, CA
More information here.

June 12, 2017
Janet Meakin Poor Research Symposium ”Timing is Everything: The Impact of Changes in Phenology" at the
Chicago Botanic Garden. More information here.


June 25-30, 2017
14th World Congress on Parasitic Plants
Pacific Grove, California

More information here.

Oct 23-24, 2017
2nd Hawaiian Botanical Forum
Kīlauea Military Camp, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i
More information here.


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

Next Issue: News from the proceedings of our annual CPC National Meeting being held in San Diego, May 4-6, and more. Know others who may wish to receive news from CPC? They can Subscribe Here.
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