New England Plant Conservation Program – Surveying Rare Plants

Last week, Jen Karberg (NCF’s Research Supervisor) attended the annual New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP) MA Task Force Meeting to discuss rare plants and the state of rare plant populations and management in Massachusetts. NEPCoP is a collection of professional botanists, conservation organizations, universities and state agencies organized in order to document New England’s rare plants and assist in managing and maintaining populations of rare and endangered plants.  In 1996 NEPCoP published the first Flora Conservanda – a list of the plants of conservation concern (rare, threatened and endangered) in each of the New England States.  NEPCoP recently released an updated version of that list for 2012.

Each state in New England has an organized NEPCoP Task Force to managing the monitoring of rare plants across the state.  The Task Force for Massachusetts meets annually in January to discuss review rare plant surveys from the previous year and plan rare plant surveys and management actions like seed collection for the coming field season.  The meeting also gives us a chance to touch base on botanical news in New England!

One of the most exciting projects we talked about this year was the GoBotany website – if you haven’t see this website yet, please check it out!  GoBotany is a fantastic tool developed by the New England Wildflower Society to make plant identification accessible to everyone.  The website is complete with wonderful photographs and very clear illustrations as well as detailed plant characteristics to help everyone from the very beginner to the experienced botanist.  If you are new to learning plants – visit the website’s Simple Key: a very user-friendly guide to 1,200 of the most common plants in New England.  For all of you Botany-nerds out there: very soon, GoBotany will be unveiling the Complete Dichotomous Key to ALL of the plants in New England (over 3500 plants).  This detailed key will allow you to interactively key out plants anywhere you are as long as you have access to the internet!  Also – if you want a list of which plants you can find in your particular county, check out the Vascular Flora of Massachusetts Checklist complied by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage Department

The GoBotany Complete Dichotomous Key to all New England plants is based on the new book released last spring:

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Flora Novae Angliae – the new definitive plant ID book for New England written by Arthur Haines; research botanist for the New England Wildflower Society and and instructor with the Delta Institute of Natural History.   This new flora of New England would be a great addition to any botanist’s library!

Does all of this plant talk make you want to run out and start searching for new and rare plants?  Consider becoming a Plant Conservation Volunteer for the New England Wildflower Society! We are always looking to energetic and dedicated people to assist in the work of locating and surveying rare plant populations.

Slender Marsh Pink - Sabatia campanulata 01

Slender rose-gentian

Follow the links below to learn about some of the rare plants that NCF staff will be searching for on our properties this coming field season.

Three-angled spikesedge

Large grass-leaved rush

Slender rose-gentian

Seaside bluebells

Foxtail bog-clubmoss

Remember, if you happen to be out walking the properties and see one of these plants please contact Jen and we can add the information to our inventory!

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