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About Plant Conservation

Roy Creek Camp Waterfall - Plant Conservation
Roy Creek camp above waterfall with creek.

The Wildflower Center takes a multi-pronged approach to address specific plant conservation threats such as the harm caused by invasive species and the need to protect plants of conservation concern. Through partnerships, information sharing, seed collection and banking, rare plant monitoring and research, botanical expertise and novel citizen science-based approaches, the Wildflower Center has become a recognized leader in plant conservation in the state of Texas.

The Wildflower Center’s conservation staff works with partners and stakeholders to address the most pressing plant conservation needs in Texas. These needs include:

  1. Leadership and coordination,
  2. Rare plant and invasive species monitoring and research,
  3. Collecting and banking seeds for conservation and restoration,
  4. Comprehensive documentation and mapping of the state’s flora,
  5. Dissemination of information,
  6. Developing a network of citizen scientists to monitor invasive species and rare plants and, most importantly,
  7. Educating landowners and the public about the importance of conserving Texas’ natural heritage and biodiversity.

Over the last two decades, the Wildflower Center has developed core strengths to address these needs including developing botanical expertise, public and private partnerships, model citizen science programs and a state of the art seed storage lab. In many ways, the Wildflower Center has become a cornerstone of plant conservation activities in Texas.

Botanical Expertise

The United States will lose nearly half of its workforce with botanical expertise within the next decade. As botanical capacity declines, so, too, does our ability to conserve and protect endangered and threatened species and control invasive species. The Wildflower Center’s plant conservation team has extensive knowledge of native ecosystems and landscapes and conservation issues in Texas. This botanical expertise has enabled the Wildflower Center to become a leader in native plant research, conservation and education and to understand and meet the state’s conservation needs.

Public and Private Partnerships

Access to land is a serious impediment to plant conservation in Texas where 96 percent of the property is in private hands. Diligent attention to building relationships with private landowners and public land stewards has given the Wildflower Center unprecedented access to nearly 2 million acres of private and public lands throughout Texas. While single-species protection is still the prevailing conservation strategy, reintroduction of rare and endangered species back into the wild is the new frontier in plant conservation. Texas landowners play a critical role in in making this effort a success.

Our partners include federal and state conservation agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. We collaborate with the Center for Plant Conservation, Seeds of Success and the Texas Native Plant Conservation Alliance to address the conservation of rare, endangered and keystone plant species. We work in partnership with willing land owners to inventory endemic plants and plant communities on their properties.

Citizen Science

Well-trained citizen scientists are important conservation partners. They fill a gap for agencies and organizations that otherwise may not be able to achieve conservation goals due to a lack of staff and/or funding. Through our outreach efforts, the Wildflower Center recruits, educates and trains Texas Master Naturalists, members of the Native Plant Society of Texas, Wildflower Center volunteers and others to participate in rare and endangered species detection and monitoring, seed collection and processing, plant rescues, and the detection, monitoring and reporting of invasive species through the Invaders of Texas program.
Citizen Science - Plant Conservation

Seed Collection and Banking

Over the past eight years, the Wildflower Center has partnered with the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (a global conservation project), Seeds of Success (a national conservation project) and multiple state agencies, private landowners and stakeholders to collect and store millions of seeds of more than 600 Texas native species. With an emphasis on high priority species for restoration projects, appropriately collected and processed germplasm (seeds) is stored in the Wildflower Center’s seed bank with backup collections being maintained the National Center for Genetic Resource Preservation in Fort Collins, CO. The Wildflower Center also collects seeds for the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Forest Service and other organizations that need specific plant materials. Learn more...

Invasive Species

Through research, outreach, statewide conferences and partnerships with state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, the nursery industry and other stakeholders, the Wildflower Center is leading the statewide effort to address the issue of Invasive Species…the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat destruction. Our signature Invaders of Texas program, whereby citizen scientists are trained to detect the arrival and dispersal of invasive species and report them into a statewide mapping system, has become a national model for citizen science programs. Learn more...

Research

The Wildflower Center partners with the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) to perform research on federally or state listed threatened and endangered and species of conservation concern including Texas wild-rice (Zizania texana), Texas poppy mallow (Callirhoe scabriuscula), Puzzle sunflower (Helianthus paradoxus), Hinckley’s oak (Quercus hinkleyi), Big red sage (Salvia penstemonoides), Texas snowbells (Styrax texana), Bracted twistflower (Streptanthus bracteatus), Texabama croton (Croton alabamensis var. texensis), and Comanche Peak prairie clover (Dalea reverchonii). Our botanical expertise, facilities and access to private and public lands uniquely positions the Wildflower Center to perform fundamental research on these species including demography and reproductive biology, monitoring and reintroductions. Learn more...
Penstemon murrayanus Anderson County; Abronia ameliae, South Texas;Cypripedium kentuckiensis, Center for Plant Conservation National Collection species
LEFT TO RIGHT: Penstemon murrayanus, Anderson County; Abronia ameliae, South Texas; Cypripedium kentuckiensis, Center for Plant Conservation National Collection species
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