Ongoing Projects with Rare Plants

The Arboretum is a proud partner with the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC), an organization founded in 1984 that seeks to prevent the extinction of US native plants. As a partner to the CPC, the Arboretum is responsible for leading conservation efforts for seven species, which include three orchids (Platanthera praeclara, western prairie fringed orchid; Cypripedium candidum, small white lady’s slipper; Cypripedium arietinum, ram’s head lady’s slipper), a Minnesota endemic (Erythronium propullans, dwarf trout lily) and a Wisconsin endemic (Oxytropis campestris var. chartacea, Fassett’s locoweed).

The work and research for this program involves creating a long-term, genetically diverse seed bank of each species as well as developing an understanding of how to best propagate and out-plant each species. There are two long-term goals for conservation seed banks, the first is the more obvious insurance against species extinction the bank provides. The second is perhaps less obvious, to enable restoration work for each species with the ultimate objective being successful restoration or preservation in situ (i.e., in a plant’s native, wild habitat). In the face of  climate change, this work will also function to preserve genetic diversity necessary for each species to be able to adapt to new conditions , and to enhance knowledge of successfully introducing these plants back into natural or restored landscapes. In many cases we have successfully propagated these species and for a few of them we are establishing safeguard beds at the Arboretum. These beds are ways of maintaining a living collection of plants from individual populations as a means of both researching the plants and creating a secondary backup to the seed bank.