Our very existence on earth depends on plants--trees for oxygen and shelter, plants for medicine, food and clothing. But plants are in peril. Botanists estimate that by 2050 over 100,000 of the worlds plant species will be at risk of extinction. Plants face many perils worldwide: climate change, over harvesting and invasive species loom. in Asia, the largest threats are habit loss from human expansion and over-cropping to support that expansion.
Conserving plants, and slowing species loss is one of the greatest challenges of our times, and one of the major missions of Quarryhill with regard to Asian plants. Those efforts take a variety of forms:
Collection of seed of endangered species before they are lost
We mount at least one annual month-long expedition to Asia to collect seed of endangered species.
Executive Director Bill McNamara and occasionally other staff members join with plant hunters from other institutions such as Royal Botanical Garden-Kew, UBC Botanical Garden, Howick Arboretum and The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh to trek deep into the mountains of China, Japan, or other Asian places, government permits in hand, and often accompanied by botanists from local institutions to harvest rare seed and plant material. See our Expeditions section.
Propagation of threatened species' seed in our greenhouse
Seed returned from expeditions is carefully stored in appropriate conditions. Part is banked for the future, part shared with other institutions, and some treated as dictated by species, and ultimately germinated in the greenhouse for planting in the garden.
Growing imperiled species to provide seed for future reforestation
Quarryhill staff, with advice from our Advisory Board and consultation with other experts have identified a list of key highly threatened plants to grow in quantity, with the ultimate objective of being able to provide viable, diverse seed back to the countries of origin for re-forestation. See Rare Plants for more information.
Learn How to Support Quarryhill's Conservation Efforts
Acer pentaphyllum Grove
This plant is extremely endangered in the wild in China. Botanists estimate that it will be extinct in the wild inside a decade. We have collected seed, and from that germinated several hundred plants which are currently growing in our nursery.
In the spring of 2009, we planted 200 specimens in approximately three acres of the south-east corner of our 20-acre expansion area (to the south of the main garden). The goal of the project is to produce seed for seed banking, distribution to other botanic gardens and scientific institutions for research and display, and most importantly, for repatriation to areas in China where the trees naturally occur. Quarryhill is the only institution in the world working to save this rare maple tree from extinction.
Acer pentaphyllum plants ready to
go in the ground
Possibly the most threatened plant in the garden, this is one of only two in the US, and one of only about 50 remaining in the entire world. We have been attempting to propagate seed from the original expedition on which it was obtained, and have six successful plants growing in the nursery out of some 50 seeds. While unlikely that we would be able to obtain more seed in the wild, it is hoped that ultimately we can get these trees to flower, obtain viable seed from these plants and increase the stocks of this almost extinct tree.