Native Plant Materials

orange poppies in a native California poppy seed production area.
Native California poppy seed production area. Native plant species are increasing being utilized on federal lands to restore native ecosystems and mitigate the effects of wildfire and other types of disturbances. Photo by Shelley Ellis, Bureau of Land Management.

Native plants are valued for their economic, ecological, genetic, and aesthetic benefits in addition to their intrinsic value as living species. The use of native plant material (seeds, cuttings, plants) in vegetation projects plays an important role in the maintenance and restoration of native plant gene pools, communities, and ecosystems, and can help reverse the trend of species loss in North America.

Western Center for Native Plant Conservation and Restoration Science

RMRS and PNW field crews.
RMRS and PNW field crews training on data collection at bluebunch wheatgrass experimental plot at Central Ferry, WA (Photo by: Holly Prendeville, PNW Research Station).

The health of ecosystems across the West is increasingly impacted by many factors including climate change and drought. This is challenging land managers with a pressing need for more science-based, integrated restoration methods. To meet that challenge, scientists from the three western U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service’s research stations – Pacific Northwest (PNW), Pacific Southwest (PSW), and Rocky Mountain (RMRS) Research Stations – chartered a collaborative group called the Western Center for Native Plant Conservation and Restoration Science (WCNP).

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National Seed Strategy for Landscape Scale Rehabilitation and Restoration

National Seed Strategy cover.

The National Seed Strategy, developed in partnership with the Plant Conservation Alliance and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, guides ecological restoration across major landscapes, especially those lands damaged by rangeland fires, invasive species, severe storms, and drought. The Strategy emphasizes the importance of planting appropriate seeds to help grow plant life and pollinator habitat, which are critical natural defenses against climate change.

The Forest Service and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Finalize a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Conservation and Management of Native Plants

North American Orchid Conservation Center logo.

On December 9, 2014, The Director of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the Chief of the Forest Service finalized a new service-wide Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU recognizes the mutual interest in the conservation and management of native plants, especially native orchids. The Smithsonian, through its North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC), leads a coalition of organizations dedicated to conserving the diverse orchid heritage of the U.S. and Canada. The initial groups of public and private organizations that support NAOCC have joined forces with a common goal: to ensure the survival of native orchids for future generations. To this end, the NAOCC’s collaborators are working to preserve habitats; create and maintain national collections of seeds and orchid mycorrhizal fungi; and support research on orchid ecology, conservation, and restoration.