Plant conservation, was Tecophilaea Cyanocrocus

Jane McGary
Mon, 05 Sep 2011 09:03:36 PDT
Harold Koopowitz wrote,
>I have not forgotten. I was the one who invited Read and Campbell to
>the meeting in the first place. However, the fact that some plants
>are on CITES has very little to do with actual levels of threat. It
>has more to do with "do-gooders" who actually did not really
>appreciate what they were doing when plant groups were placed on

I am vividly reminded of the program I organized for a NARGS Winter 
Study Weekend some years ago, to which I invited Faith Campbell of 
the Natural Resources Defense Fund to speak. She was first on the 
morning program, and her talk really woke the audience up -- and not 
in a good way. She inveighed against any collection of any material 
in the wild, including seeds, and against the introduction of exotic 
species via gardens. People who take this fundamentalist approach to 
plant conservation tend to be urbanites who haven't spent much if any 
time in remote regions and who don't know how few seeds dispersed in 
the wild actually progress to the mature, reproductive plant stage. 
As for the threat of invasive species, it is real, but such plants 
are far more likely to invade where the way has been prepared for 
them by human activity, especially soil disturbance and the 
destruction of balance in naturally evolved plant communities, 
whether this is by farming, pastoralism, fire suppression (yes!) or 
killing off animals that prey on herbivores.

That said, if I found Tecophilaea cyanocrocus in the wild (highly 
unlikely!) I wouldn't take away seeds from it, but I would plant some 
in protective crevices on the site.

Joshua wrote,
"   I don't think it's just the younger crowd that are eagerly awaiting the
presence of the rarer Amaryllids into their collection considering their
beauty.  I think this is why it's important for many to share their
collections to avoid people for searching at whatever cost and it's quite
difficult to find many seasoned growers that are willing to offer offsets to
places like PBS of incredibly rare species."

Having been fortunate enough to be able, over many years, to buy 
seeds of some rare species (though not tropical amaryllids, which I 
can't grow here), I was glad to be able to share them, first through 
my surplus sales and now through having given stock bulbs and seeds 
to Mark Akimoff's Illahe Nursery in Salem, Oregon. Mark just sent out 
his first catalog and reports a good response (you can contact him at He is a university-trained horticulturist who 
moved his focus from alpines to bulbs in order to fit a nursery 
operation in with his fulltime job in wetlands conservation. I'm sure 
many older gardeners are grateful to be able to pass on their 
collections to younger ones. Hoarding a plant collection is never a 
good idea. I see that Terry Laskiewicz has just sent Watsonia humilis 
to the BX; I don't know whether she got it from me, but I lost it in 
a bad freeze 2 years ago, and am glad to see it's still around so I 
can eventually get it back, as it's a delightful plant and an 
opportunity to grow a Watsonia in a small space (not a feature of 
most species in the genus).

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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