CPC Best Plant Conservation Practices

to Support Species Survival in the Wild

Florida endangered Tephrosia angustissima var. corallicola being propagated at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for an experimental reintroduction. Photo by Kristie Wendelberger

Key Messages for Special Uses of the Rare Plant Accession
  • Ex situ collections provide opportunities for research, safeguarding genetic diversity, and increasing genetically diverse individuals in the wild via reintroduction.
  • Multiple gardens may coordinate to maintain a diverse genetic conservation metacollection

The ex situ collection allows conservationists many opportunities for experimentation, as well as increasing individuals available for reintroduction to the wild.

  • For example, the U.S. endangered Brighamia insignis is extinct in the wild, but 57 accessions are held in botanical gardens (Fant et al. 2016). In comparison to swinging precariously from a cliff face in native habitat, using ex situ plants enabled careful research. Studies of floral biology, breeding system and pollination biology helped our understanding of the species’ reproductive requirements, while genetic studies of the living collections revealed the patterns of genetic diversity in botanical garden holdings that informed and optimized pollen exchange (Walsh 2015).

Using Ex-Situ Living Collections to Inform In-Situ Conservation Actions

Heather Schneider, Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens There are times when drying and storing seeds is not an option for the conservation of a plant species. This... Read More

For some long-lived species, ex situ holdings contribute to the meta-collection, which in turn safeguards the species from extinction (Griffith et al. 2019).

As part of a reintroduction plan, ex situ plants can be used to generate large numbers of target plants while maintaining even family lines.