Saving Endangered Plants

Tony Avent
Tue, 06 Sep 2011 11:41:00 PDT

I promised only one story, but you just reminded me of another favorite.  I spent 2 days in the herbarium of a southwest botanic garden a few years ago looking at fern specimens from the region.  The herbarium curators bemoaned the lack of funds to travel and secure new specimens.  I mentioned that our nursery would be glad to contribute to their expeditions, provided I could get a few spores in exchange.  Their looks were truly could I imagine that an elitist botanic garden would cooperate with a lowly nursery, whose only motive was obviously greed.  Needless to say, they never took me up on the offer.

Tony Avent
Plant Delights Nursery @
Juniper Level Botanic Garden
9241 Sauls Road
Raleigh, North Carolina  27603  USA
Minimum Winter Temps 0-5 F
Maximum Summer Temps 95-105F
USDA Hardiness Zone 7b
phone 919 772-4794
fax  919 772-4752
"I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it least three times" - Avent

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of J.E. Shields
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2011 12:29 PM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: Re: [pbs] Saving Endangered Plants

Hi all,

I visited the CPC at Mobot once and talked for quite some time with Ms.
Kennedy.  Ms. Kennedy was quite polite, perhaps because of my past associations with conservation efforts for bulbs (IUCN bulb committee, v.p.
and director of conservation for I.B.S., all at least 10 years ago).  I did not approach her as a nurseryman.  We had a good chat and she was able to tell me about at least a couple successful re-introductions into the wild.  I had been skeptical of it up until that point, because it usually just hasn't worked.  So C.P.C. is doing some reasonable things, and has had at least a couple preliminary successes.

Some of my best friends work for botanic gardens (Hi, Boyce!) but I have also encountered Obsessive Compulsive behavior, perhaps colored by self-interest, among botanical garden folks.  There is a strong tendency to want to monopolize the whole subject.  However, when I tried to find refuges in botanical gardens for rare bulb species being salvaged from development sites in Sprain, I got short shrift.  We had all the proper papers, and they included my signature promising not to let the bulbs get into commercial channels.  I eventually did get them all placed with reasonably secure institutions, but no one would or could guarantee me that they would not have been destroyed or lost in the future.  I'm not really confident that any of them are still alive.

It's tough world out there, and I am absolutely convinced that anything humanity does not actively preserve will not survive the next century or so.  I fear it will be ex situ preservation or no conservation at all.  Tony makes a strong argument for propagation and distribution through nurseries.

Jim Shields

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA
Lat. 40° 02.8' N, Long. 086° 06.6' W

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