Native Plant Materials Development
Protecting native plants and natural areas is heart of our work at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. We have been able to expand that work thanks to recent funding to develop plant and seed resources for the restoration and rehabilitation of native plant communities. Locally-sourced native plants – or ecotypes – are better adapted to the local environment, more genetically diverse, and better able to become established.
Our Native Plant Materials Development Program identifies important native species that are not widely available in nurseries. We collect seeds from multiple wild populations to ensure genetic diversity. Since 2019, our team has made 626 collections of 245 native species from all four ecoregions of North Carolina (Mountains, Piedmont Sandhills, and Coastal Plain).
We store some of the collected seed in our seed bank and use the rest to propagate plants and seed for restoration projects on our natural areas and for other conservation groups. Some of our current and past partners include NC Sea Grant, NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, Eno River Association, and the NC Plant Conservation Program.
At our Native Plant Materials Development Center at Mason Farm Biological Reserve, we have developed seed increase plots to produce bulk quantities of native seed for restoration. We currently have 33 species in production. Triangle Land Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy are using seed harvested from our plots to restore areas of the lands they manage. We have also shared our wild collected seed with other native seed and plants producers including Roundstone Native Seed, Mellow Marsh Farm, Rural Advancement Foundation International and the Farmers of Color Network. By sharing seed with these producers we are working towards diversifying the species available in the commercial seed market.