New Wild Plant Regulations Now in Place in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn on Wednesday announced that new regulations that apply to the conservation of native wild plants in Pennsylvania are now final.

(PHOTO: Purple Fringeless Orchid: Threatened)

After a public comment and approval process taking place over more than a year, the final regulations were published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Dec. 22, 2018.

“There are many more species of plants in the world than there are animals, and the mission of DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry includes conserving native wild plants,” Dunn said. “Pennsylvania is home to about 3,000 plant species — about two-thirds of those are considered native to the commonwealth, and 347 of them are currently considered rare, threatened, or endangered.”

Pennsylvania’s wild plant classifications includes rare, threatened and endangered, as well as others such as vulnerable, extirpated, tentatively undetermined and special population.

The updates to the list include:

  • Nine plants were added
  • Nine plants moved from a lower classification to a higher one
  • Two plants were downgraded
  • Thirty-one plants were removed from the list
  • Scientific names were changed  for 79 species

The department will continue working to maintain an updated list of classified plants in Pennsylvania by obtaining scientific information and classification recommendations from the public and experts across the state.

DCNR supports the newly formed Pennsylvania Plant Conservation Network, which will focus on the stewardship of rare plants on private lands and outreach on the importance of plants. That work will be spearheaded by Pennsylvania Plant Conservation Network Coordinator Kristi Allen.

Many factors can threaten populations of plants and cause them to become rare. Some of the most common threats to plants in Pennsylvania include:

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation, due to climate change, development, or conversion of habitat
  • Invasive plants displacing native plants
  • Creation of more edge habitat, increasing the threat of invasive plant species
  • Selective browsing by white-tailed deer or other wildlife may prevent plants from reproducing
  • Over-collection by people

There are some things everyone can do to help native wild plants:

  • Don’t pick native wild plants. Picking flowers means the plant will not go to seed. Take pictures, but leave the flowers in their habitats.
  • Do not remove plants from the wild to plant at home. They generally will not survive and removing them hurts their natural populations.
  • Don’t plant invasives and remove them at home. This will prevent their spread to other areas.
  • Plant natives in your yard, and ask for them at the garden center.

DCNR has reviewed more than 20 years of field and taxonomic data to make these regulation updates.

The department receives plant data, information, and classification recommendations from the Pennsylvania Biological Survey’s (PABS) Vascular Plant Technical Committee, which is comprised of professional botanists.

DCNR also receives input from a public forum of the committee — the Rare Plant Forum; which is attended by 50-80 amateur and professional botanists from across the state.

For more information about the rulemaking and wild plants, visit the DCNR website, choose “Conservation.”

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