By Jen Munson, HSA Education Chair
The diversity of the world’s plants has dwindled and/or is threatened. In fact the International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that 54 percent of the 19,000 plant species they have identified are at risk. In New England it is estimated that almost 20 percent of New England’s native plants are on the verge of being lost and another 5 percent has already disappeared. Native plants are under threat from invasive species, habitat loss, climate changes among other impacts.
The New England Wildflower Society seeks to preserve New England native plants. Based at the Garden in The Woods botanic garden in Framingham, Massachusetts, their mission is, “to conserve and promote the region’s native plants to ensure healthy, biologically diverse landscapes.” They secure and preserve seeds from rare plants to protect genetic diversity. They also educate everyone from hobby gardeners to landscape professionals on the importance of natives as wells as encourage the use of natives in the home garden.
The New England Wildflower Society is a terrific resource. Their “Go Botany” page offers a rich, searchable database which is a wonderful aid in helping to self-identify natives and learn about plants indigenous to the area. Beyond that they propagate natives that are sold to the general public making them more accessible to enthusiasts. Plants are available during the growing season at Garden in the Woods and Nasami Farmursery in Whately, Massachusetts.
While visiting the New England Wildflower Society is not feasible for everyone you will have an opportunity to learn from them. The society’s propagator and stock bed grower, Dan Jaffe, is the Herb Society of America’s guest webinar speaker at 1 p.m. EST on Thursday, September 27. Dan is known for his infectious enthusiasm, beautiful photography, and rich knowledge of natives. Don’t miss “For Us and Them: Edible Native Plants for Pollinators.” This program is free to Herb Society members and just $5 for the general public. Sign up for the webinar.