Native Plant Conservation

Everglades National Park. Photo by Haniel Pulido

Native plant conservation at Fairchild is conducted by the Conservation Team: a group of experts who monitor, research, and grow plants native to South Florida and the Caribbean. Our program objective is to decrease the extinction risk of our local flora. We have accomplished so much since our program began in the 1980s. If you would you like to get involved, please consider joining our Connect to Protect Network

Reintroductions

Fairchild plays an important role in the conservation of South Florida’s endangered plants through rare plant reintroductions. Since 1991, we have facilitated 86 reintroductions of 25 species. We design reintroductions as experiments, so that while we are returning a native species to the wild, we are also learning about its ecology. Some of the species for which we have conducted multiple reintroductions include Amorpha herbacea var. crenulata, Jacquemontia reclinata, and Pilosocereus robinii.

Seed research

Seeds are a major component of our rare plant collections, as stored seeds take up few resources, but can be sown to provide plants for reintroduction or research. Since seed storage behavior of subtropical species is difficult to predict, we often conduct experimental trials to help determine optimal seed storage requirements for these species. If seeds are determined to be “orthodox” (good candidates for storage), they are kept in our on-site seed bank and/or sent to the USDA’s National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation. These pine rockland seed images were taken by Jack Hahn in Fairchild’s imaging lab. 

Brickellia mosieri
Guettarda scabra
Clematis baldwinii
Croton linearis
Centrosema virginianum
Passiflora pallens
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Management planning

Conservation biology is challenging in South Florida, where rapid urban development has nearly wiped out some of the world’s most imperiled ecosystems like pine rockland and rockland hammock.  Fairchild’s Conservation Team works closely with managers of Miami-Dade County preserves, Broward County parks, and others to research the relationships between native South Florida plants and their ecosystems, especially in regard to best management and effective restoration practices. 

Field biology

Fairchild’s Conservation Team has a deep appreciation for nature in subtropical South Florida, where our flora and fauna are heavily influenced by those of the West Indies. Incredibly, new discoveries can still happen, right in our own back yards! In order to better understand our flora and fauna, we occasionally create informal field guides for our unique region of South Florida. We hope you enjoy them.

Conservation horticulture

Growing native plants is a critical component of our conservation work. In addition to growing plants for reintroductions, restorations, and Fairchild plant sales, we care for a portion of the US National Collection with support from the Center for Plant Conservation. 

Conservation staff & volunteers

Jennifer Possley | Conservation Program Manager 
Jimmy Lange | Lead Botanist 
Lydia Cuni | Field Biologist 
Brian Harding | Conservation Horticulturist
Dr. Sabine Wintergerst | Seed Lab Manager 
Daniela Champney | Connect to Protect Network Manager

Nursery & field volunteers | Maria, Mary, Ray, Jim, Nathan, Pedro, Sharyn, Cari, Carol, Isabel, Lisa, Richard, and Kim 

Funding 

Fairchild’s Conservation Team is funded by grants from local, state and federal agencies, as well as by private donors. Donations are critical to our program. If you wish to donate to our work, please contact Jennifer Possley at jpossley@fairchildgarden.org or 305-667-1651, ext 3514.  Thank you to our recent supporters, including:

Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Florida’s Endangered Plant Advisory Council
Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces 
US Fish and Wildlife Service

US National Park Service
The Center for Plant Conservation
Broward County Parks and Recreation
Individual private donors

Photo credits:

Banner image by Haniel Pulido, www.falconshots.com

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