Sharing seeds of rare plants

Diana Chapman
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 05:54:52 PST
Thank you, Tony for this posting.  I have been roundly attacked by 
members of the California Native Plant Society, most of whom have no 
understanding of genetics beyond Mendel's peas.  My local chapter is 
especially rabid and even published a lengthy article (not a letter to 
editor) in a local newspaper attacking me.  The newspaper refused to 
print my rebuttal.  As a result, I basically have nothing to do with 
native plant societies.

My local USDA office, on the other hand, has been more than friendly and 
helpful.  They say I can sell threatened or endangered native species 
within the USA but can't ship abroad without a CITES certificate.  I 
have obtained the few species I have that are listed from legitimate 
sources, usually from the director of the Tilden Park Botanical Garden 
in Berkeley in years past or from their plant sales, none have been wild 
collected, at least by me.

As for donating seeds to botanical gardens, survival in botanical 
gardens is dependent upon funding, which is, in many instances, being 
severely reduced or eliminated.  Many botanical gardens here in 
California have had their funding reduced to nothing, and are told they 
must be self supporting.  Since the level of interest in plants in the 
USA is not very high, the future of these gardens looks grim.  I believe 
this happened at UC Irvine, which once had a superb bulb collection, and 
also at UC Santa Cruz.  In addition, staff come and go in botanical 
gardens, and if someone with a particular interest in, let's say, 
Calochortus, has been propagating and sustaining the collection in a 
garden and then moves on, the collection will suffer unless there is 
another to take over.  The best insurance is widespread distribution of 
sensitive plant material.

Telos Rare Bulbs
> I have had more dealings with the self-appointed controllers of rare plants than I'd like to remember.  I find their arguments devoid of any logic and find their arrogance disappointing.  First, if anyone believes that climate changes, then the least effective method of conserving a rare plant would be in situ conservation.  Propagation and widespread distribution is far more logical.  While in situ conservation makes us feel good and may be fine in the short term, it really isn't a good long term conservation strategy.
> I dealt with the  "preserve this ideal point in time because it makes me feel worthy" plant crowd when serving an 8-year term with on our NC Rare Plant Scientific Committee.  I once mentioned propagating the rare native Echinacea laevigata and the purists on the committee immediately threw up the standard response....the lunacy of genetic contamination if plants are planted near the a conservation site.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but few plants would exist today without genetic exchange between populations, since as we all know, genetic bottlenecks usually lead to long term population decline and reductions in adaptability.  The US has been glaciated 17 times, during which plants were moved all around the continent.  It is this constant movement that keeps populations reinvigorated, as opposed to the isolation that exists now as natural distributions have been interrupted by humans.  Also, would it not be worse on a natural population of Echinacea laevigata if a homeowner pl
>   ted the commonly sold Echinacea purpurea near the preserve since echinaceas  are notorious cross breeders?   Even this, according to Dr. Rob Griesbach of the USDA would be a good idea, since according to him, the  most efficient way to preserve to genetics is to create hybrids since these store all of the genetics from several parents in a single offspring.   The entire notion of preserving rare plant genetics is actually a modus operandi to preserve the flow of grant money to fund people with this myopic view of nature.
> I also like to bring up to the plant conservation idealists...why are you preserving a rare plant?  Most plants are rare because they are poorly adaptable..often existing in a very specialized, limited size ecosystem.  It seems to me that these plants were destined by nature to go extinct, if you consider historical climate change part of nature.
> Finally, if the plant is not going to be used by humans, what is the point of preservation, if you limit human access and use?  In my world, any use that has an economic benefit would be desirable, since this is the basis of our human society.  Our current system is sadly broken, but the until there is a major backlash against the academic elite of the world, both plants and humans will suffer.   Just my two cents.
> Tony Avent
> Plant Delights Nursery @
> Juniper Level Botanic Garden
> 9241 Sauls Road
> Raleigh, North Carolina  27603  USA
> USDA Hardiness Zone 7b
> email<>
> website<>
> "I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it least three times"
> From: pbs [] On Behalf Of Hannon
> Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2014 11:19 PM
> To: Pacific Bulb Society
> Subject: [pbs] Sharing seeds of rare plants
> Jane brings up some challenging aspects of enjoying and sharing rare bulbs.
> I have been involved in several rare plant restoration projects (not bulbs)
> and have an interest in cultivating uncommon bulbs so will add a few
> comments on a complicated subject.
> When someone puts forth the idea that there is a supposed risk of
> hybridization or genetic erosion of a rare plant held in captivity in
> private hands it presupposes, among other possibilities, that 1) the
> cultivated plants are being grown in proximity to a wild population that
> could be contaminated, or 2) the cultivated material will be used in future
> restoration projects to help a particular species. Both of these scenarios
> are exceedingly unlikely for any particular species.
> In consideration of conservation issues, why should there be any
> restriction on any cultivated rare plant that has been artificially
> propagated? This is where CITES, in not regarding nursery grown plants as
> procedurally distinct from wild-collected plants, fails to balance the
> needs of people and plants. Some plants are at risk from over-collecting
> certainly, but the far greater threat to rare plants-- all plants-- is
> habitat alteration or destruction. That is a much more difficult problem to
> subdue than supposed transgressions of the nursery trade and collectors.
> No one can say what is the harm in gathering a pinch of seed from any
> population of plants, rare or otherwise. Since bona fide seed banks
> regularly collect seed from populations of endangered species with
> scientific guidance we could assume that sampling per se is not harmful.
> Should collecting wild material of a rare species for a purpose other than
> authorized conservation work be illegal? Who decides what is appropriate
> utilization of these resources?
> Only by cultivating rare plants can we learn the skills needed to supply
> market demand (e.g., Cypripedium reginae, Tecophilaea cyanocrocus) and at
> the same time be able to assist restoration efforts of those same species.
> Expert horticultural ability is not in the skillet of the biologists,
> ecologists and land managers who take up reintroduction work directly. This
> is one of their greatest weaknesses for project success and also an
> opportunity to build bridges. At the same time, we should remember that
> reintroduction work adheres to strict scientific guidelines for the long
> and complex process of outplanting experiments. "Horticultural" material of
> rare plants, even when documented, would only very rarely be considered for
> such work. In this sense our beloved plants are not conservation material
> but they are just as important in their role as the subject of an essential
> human endeavor.
> It is debatable if the display or availability of rare or endangered
> (listed) plants risks someone being inspired to then go out and take plants
> or seeds from the wild. A much more likely and demonstrable outcome is that
> cultivated rare plants inspire people to appreciation (apart from growing)
> of precious natural resources and raise awareness of the importance of
> conservation and stewardship. Those who would advocate that stewardship
> should be restricted solely to nature management need to provide a sound
> argument for that position and explain where the importance of rarity
> trails off and we can then justify the asters, daylilies and liquidambars
> all around us.
> "*Do we have a moral duty, then, to abandon **Fritillaria liliacea or
> Erythronium elegans to extinction?*" Jane, I think that would
> be abandonment of moral duty.
> Dylan Hannon
> *"The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an
> useful plant to its culture..." --**Thomas Jefferson*
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