Tag Archives: new england wild flower society

Seeds of Success Interns at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

Building a Stronger Coast — One Seed at a Time

Seeds of Success, a native seed collection program led by the Bureau of Land Management, is helping to restore and strengthen coastal areas vulnerable to intense storms and sea-level rise predicted with a changing climate.

Seeds of Success: Bureau of Land Management Intern in North Carolina Field

Seeds of Success: A Bureau of Land Management intern on the lookout for native seeds in a North Carolina field. Credit: Amanda Faucette, Conservation Botanist, North Carolina Botanical Garden

Seeds of Success (SOS) collects wildland native seed for research, development, germplasm conservation and ecosystem restoration. The ultimate goal is to ensure the availability of genetically rich, regionally adapted native plant materials to restore, rehabilitate and stabilize lands in the United States through the multi-stage process of native plant material development (NPMD).  NPMD begins with these wildland seed collections being utilized for plant production and seed increases.  In this way, when environmental restoration projects need native species to plant in a given region, they are able to source genetically and ecologically appropriate materials, which ultimately supports the goal of allowing native plant communities to flourish and fish and wildlife habitats to thrive.

Seeds of Success: Michael Piantedosi

Michael Piantedosi, NEPCop/Seed Bank Coordinator of New England Wild Flower Society collects Asclepias syriaca at Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newington, New Hampshire. Credit: James Lucas, Seeds of Success Intern, New England Wild Flower Society

Since being established in 2001, SOS has added more than two dozen agencies to its list of collaborators and project partners — including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The program recently launched the first large-scale, coordinated seed banking effort in the eastern United States as part of the $360 million in federal Hurricane Sandy mitigation funding the Department of the Interior is using to restore and rebuild national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other federal assets on the Atlantic coast. SOS East targets 30-50 foundation species found in habitats most impacted by Hurricane Sandy, designed to increase the capacity of coastal habitats and infrastructure to better withstand storms.

Under the SOS East program, the New England Wild Flower Society, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank (part of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation), Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Cape May Plant Materials Center, are collaborating to provide seed from native, locally adapted plants for restoration of sub-tidal habitats and dunes, wetlands, salt marshes, near-coastal freshwater habits, coastal forests, and inland rivers and streams. Much of the vegetation in these habitats was inundated by salt water, smothered sand, or washed out to sea during Hurricane Sandy.

Bureau of Land Management Intern collecting Pluchea odorata (Sweetscent) at Edwin Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Galloway, NJ

BLM Intern collecting Pluchea odorata (Sweetscent) at Edwin Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Galloway, New Jersey. Credit: Clara Holmes, Seed Collection Coordinator, Mid Atlantic Regional Seed Bank

During the next two years, SOS East will work directly with the Service, providing native seeds to supplement Hurricane Sandy habitat resiliency projects.  In its first collection season, teams have made over 700 wild seed collections. Currently 28 federally funded Service Hurricane Sandy restoration projects from Maine to Virginia are using native plant materials gathered through SOS. Among these is the Hyde Pond Dam Removal on Whitford Brook in Mystic, Connecticut.

“Following dam removal, project partners will sow these seeds collected from local, native plants on bare soil to help hold the soils in place, preempt colonization by invasive, non-native plants, and provide habitat for pollinator insects, birds, and other wildlife,” says Service fish and wildlife biologist Lori Benoit.

Benoit says the New England Wild Flower Society will make a significant contribution to restoring the wetlands and forest surrounding the Hyde Pond Dam site.

Another Service project reaping the benefits of the SOS East project is salt marsh restoration and enhancement at Seatuck and Wertheim National Wildlife Refuges, and Lido Beach Wildlife Management Area in Long Island, N.Y. Collaborating with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank (MARSB), project partners will sow native low and high salt marsh plant species.

Seeds of Success Interns at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

Seeds of Success interns harvesting marsh grass seeds at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware. Credit: Susan Guiteras/USFWS

In addition to benefiting coastal natural resources, SOS partners provide opportunities for recent college graduates to get involved in the program by hiring interns, through Chicago Botanic Garden’s Conservation Land Management Program, to help out with seed collection. These interns get the opportunity to venture out into the field in search for seed, often accessing remote coastal areas. A team of SOS interns in Delaware spent time collecting native seeds for many plants, including those that will be planted at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge as part of tidal marsh restoration. This is one example of intern participation in an SOS partner project, collecting native seeds that will help to ensure that the restoration plantings include local ecotypes, which can be important for plant survival and success.

“Using locally-collected seeds will give the new plants the best chance for success, as they will be well-adapted for local growing conditions,” says Bart Wilson, the Service’s marsh restoration coordinator at Prime Hook.

To date, SOS has accumulated more than 16,000 native seed collections in its national collection. Each seed has played its own role in bringing native species back to life in areas where their populations have been depleted. Acting as thousands of little building blocks, these seeds and the people who collect, distribute, and nourish them into living species are working together to impact ecosystems effected by Sandy as well as habitats all over the country.

To learn more about this program, visit:
Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank

Bureau of Land Management Seeds of Success Program 

New England Wild Flower Society: Seed Collection for Coastal Restoration Projects after Hurricane Sandy

North Carolina Botanical Garden news release: Seeds of Success Grow in the Eastern U.S. (pdf)

Robbins' cinquefoil was the first plant species to fully recover and be removed from Endangered Species Act protection. Credit: USFWS

The first plant recovered under the Endangered Species Act…Drumroll please!

Robbins' cinquefoil was the first plant species to fully recover and be removed from Endangered Species Act protection. Credit: USFWS

Robbins’ cinquefoil was the first plant species to fully recover and be removed from Endangered Species Act protection. Credit: USFWS

It is able to withstand some of the harshest weather conditions in New England, yet despite this, the Robbins’ cinquefoil flower (Potentilla robbinsiana) needed the protection of the Endangered Species Act to survive.

As a result of over collecting, habitat destruction and trampling, this small alpine species from the rose family that grows on the slopes of the White Mountains in New Hampshire was nearly lost forever.

For us, the story begins in 1824, when the yellow-flowered Robbins’ cinquefoil was discovered along the Crawford Path ascending Mount Washington. The footpath – now recognized as the oldest continually used mountain trail in the U.S. – was completed just five years earlier.

Over the next 150 years, hiking and backpacking boomed, and foot traffic and horses trampled the cinquefoil, creating a deep and rutted path through its habitat. Additionally, plant collectors rigorously plucked the quarter-sized plant from the mountainside.

By 1973, this once-thriving species had dwindled to a mere 1,800 in number and was considered one of New England’s rarest plants. With 95 percent of this diminutive plant’s known habitat occurring on just one acre of the mountain, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the species as endangered and designated critical habitat on Mount Monroe in 1980.

Check out other stories of endangered plant and animal conservation in the Northeast – We’ve shared them throughout the year!

Shortly after, the Appalachian Mountain Club and U.S. Forest Service teamed up with the Service to relocate the Crawford Path. The New England Wild Flower Society later joined the partnership, as the agencies and two non-profit organizations began long-term biological and population studies to guide recovery efforts focused on reestablishing healthy populations of Robbins’ cinquefoil.

In order to meet the recovery goal of maintaining additional self-sustaining populations, the New England Wild Flower Society collected seeds, developed methods to rear seeds and accelerate their development, and advised on transplanting methods for ensuring that nursery-raised cinquefoil could be successfully transplanted back into the wild. Biologists from partnering agencies hiked plants and water up the mountains for years until they successfully augmented the existing cinquefoil population and established two separate populations. How successful were these efforts? Find out by reading the rest of the story here!

The Jesup's milk vetch. Credit: Lisa Mattei, New England Wild Flower Society

A cliff-hanger of a survival story: Jesup’s milk-vetch

The Jesup's milk vetch. Credit: Lisa Mattei, New England Wild Flower Society

The Jesup’s milk vetch. Credit: Lisa Mattei, New England Wild Flower Society

The Jesup’s milk-vetch (Astragalus robbinsii var. jesupii) can be found at only 3 sites in the world.

The endangered plant clings by its small roots to silt-filled crevices in the steep rock outcrops along the high water mark of the Connecticut River, bounded by New Hampshire and Vermont. The milk-vetch is part of the legume family. Small leaflets shoot off its leaves, giving the milk-vetch a slight resemblance to a fern. Bunches of tiny violet flowers bloom from these leaves in early May, followed by nearly inch-long pea-like sea pods in June.

Check out other stories of endangered plant and animal conservation in the Northeast – We’re sharing them throughout the year!

By 1987, when the Jesup’s milk-vetch was listed under the Endangered Species Act, there were less than 1,100 plants at only 2 sites. The species’ survival has been sustained because of a strong partnership between the two states, supported in part by federal funding provided to states under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act. State agency staff works with partners to evaluate threats and implement recovery actions.

“Jesup’s milk-vetch is certainly a survivor,” says botanist Bob Popp with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife Natural Heritage Inventory. “The plants have to withstand summer heat and drought, winter ice scour and spring flooding.”

Bob works on the milk-vetch with intrepid botanists from New Hampshire, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the New England Wildflower Society and private groups. Each year, the team visits the sites on both sides of the river to count surviving plants and plant the seedlings carefully germinated from wild seeds and grown over the winter by the New England Wildflower Society. …Finish reading this story at our endangered species website!