Integrated Plant Conservation Through the Lens of Time

For over three decades, the Missouri Botanical Garden has spearheaded an integrated conservation program with state and federal partners to improve conservation outcomes with the federally endangered wildflower, Pyne’s ground-plum (Astragalus bibullatus). Here, I highlight three key programmatic milestones critical to the successful recovery of this species. First, seed collections made over three decades from wild populations, including a now extinct population, maintain relatively high viability in freezer storage and contribute to genetic source material for reintroduction. Second, long-term research on the ecological requirements of Pyne’s ground-plum influenced changes in natural areas management, including increased thinning and burning, which also benefits other rare species in this ecosystem. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the conservation recovery program has persisted through three decades of institutional changes in staff and funding among private and public partners. To date, over 500 reintroduced individuals survive in populations that now span seven protected sites, greatly reducing this species extinction risk.