Plant species are considered uncommon or rare when they are scarce due to low population numbers, restrictions in geographic range, or both. Plants that are naturally rare are not necessarily in threat of extinction if their natural habitat is healthy but they are more likely to become extinct than are common species if their habitat is compromised. Protection of these uncommon plants is essential to maintain biodiversity which describes the full complexity and variety of unique organisms living in a given ecosystem or the world. Biodiverse ecosystems create healthy and resilient environments and benefit people because of the food, shelter, medicine, and ecosystem functions each species provides.
In Minnesota, rare plants (also referred to as threatened and endangered) are protected under the Minnesota’s Endangered Species Statute, this law prohibits the taking, importing, transporting, or selling any portion of listed rare plants, unless a special permit is acquired. The Plant Conservation Program at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, with other local, regional, and national conservation partners, is working to preserve these imperilled plants through seed banking, live collections, and on site monitoring.