Rare Plant Treasure Hunt
Map of rare plant occurrences documented throughout California in the frsti 3 years of the project. Click to view larger.
Project Background and Results
CNPS and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) track California's rare plants in the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB), which has now provided us with a map of more than 32,000 rare plant occurrences across the state. Right now, nearly half of those occurrences are historical, meaning that they have had no documentation in at least 20 years. Getting up-to-date information on our rare plants is critical to understanding which populations are still present and which species need our closest attention in order to ensure their long-term conservation.
In addition to the need for more recent data, this project focuses on the California deserts because of the imminent threats facing these biodiversity hotspots. Many solar energy projects have been proposed throughout the desert, often in areas where few botanists have stepped foot, and un-described species could even be present!
Because nearly 50% of California Rank 1B and 2 plants occur on USDA Forest Service lands we focused time and energy on forests with high concentrations of plants in need of current data in 2012.
Rare plant occurrence type by year, for the first 3 years of the project.
The CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt has harnessed the efforts of over 200 volunteers that have spent over 8500 hours on the project, and we've already gathered data on over 1,450 rare plant occurrences. We updated 477 occurrences statewide in the 2012 field season. With more participants, we can work toward updating the approximately 15,000 historical occurrences in the CNDDB. Not only have our volunteers documented many historical occurrences, they've also made important new botanical finds – about 40% of the occurrences found in 2012 were previously unknown! About 60% of the plants documented so far are CNPS Rank 1B plants, which are the rarest plants in California. See our full results from 2012 in the figure above.
Some highlights from the 2012 field season
From the desert:
From the National Forests: