USA: Preserving and Protecting California Native Plants and Their Habitats



Vast fields of wildflowers in Eastern San Luis Obispo, California

Photograph by Nick Jensen, rare plant botanist

California’s unique habitats have been shaped by millions of years of geology and climate, producing a rich and colourful mosaic of life. Many of the plants and animals found here occur nowhere else and the California Floristic Province is one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth. Of nearly 3,500 plant species, more than 61% are endemics, but like other botanically spectacular places, California is one of the most threatened. Large-scale, intensive agriculture, a growing population, urbanization, pollution and road construction all contribute to massive habitat destruction and degradation.

However, since 1965 the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) has been working to protect California’s native plant heritage and preserve it for future generations. Their mission is to conserve California’s native plants and their natural habitats, increase understanding and appreciation, and promote the horticultural use of native plants - all of which they aim to accomplish through education, scientific research, advocacy, land stewardship and native plant gardening..

California poppy smallThe CNPS is a state-wide, not-for-profit organization with almost 10,000 members, both amateur and professional, all linked by a common interest – a passion for California native plants. In January 2015 the Society will be celebrating 50 years of native plant conservation with a conference in San Jose, California. For more information see the Events page of Plant Talk or go to 

The CNPS provides an Online Rare Plant Inventory and has published a reference book: Manual of California Vegetation, 2nd Edition. Both these resources are invaluable tools for identifying and managing critical plants and habitat in California.