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Tree Gene Conservation Partnership

Scouting and Collecting Trips

American Public Gardens Association is partnering with the United States Forestry Service’s Forest Health Protection to establish living gene banks of US  threatened tree species, by collecting seed from across its native range to capture broad genetic diversity then distributing propagules to public gardens for safeguarding in ex situ collections. Efforts focus on taxa native to US forests which cannot be conserved through traditional seedbanking methods. Launched in 2015, the Partnership funded four pilot projects leveraging established curatorial groups of the Plant Collections Network. Matching funds supported scouting and collecting trips, propagation, and distribution of propagules.

Call for 2018 Scouting/Collecting Trip Proposals due December 1, 2017.
Click here for guidelines.

The 2017 Tree Collecting Grants have been awarded to four projects.
Click here for details.


2015 Pilot Projects

Magnolia virginiana var virginiana L.  

sweetbay magnolia (Northern populations)

This ornamental tree native to the Eastern US is valued in the horticultural industry. It is declining in the wild due to habitat loss, animal browse, and over-collection for floral uses. This trip targeted northern edge populations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, to obtain cuttings for research and genetic capture of novel traits such as cold hardiness useful in breeding.   

View report. 


Quercus dumosa Nutt.

coastal sage scrub oak

This is one of the most threatened oaks in California, a global biodiversity hotspot and North American center for oak diversity which is under threat from pollution, urban development, and climate change. This endemic species grows in a narrow range in coastal sage scrub community in South California and northern Baja California, Mexico. This project targeted populations in Orange, Santa Barbara, and San Diego counties, distributing acorns to public gardens in the region for establishing in ex situ collections.   



Quercus oglethorpensis Duncan  

Oglethorpe oak

A vulnerable oak found growing along bottomlands and neighboring slopes is confined mainly to the piedmont in the southeastern US. The species is threatened by shrinking habitat, poor seed viability, and susceptibility to chestnut blight. This project targeted small disjunct populations in South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi. Summer scouting trips documented individuals and conditions at each location, then acorns and cuttings were collected later in the year. Once seeds have germinated and seedlings are established, they will be distributed to Nationally Accredited Quercus Collection holders for safeguarding.  

 View report.




Zamia integrifolia L.f.  

coonte, Florida arrowroot

The only cycad native to the continental US, this species has attractive ornamental characteristics and holds great interest to science in representing an ancient group of extant seed plants. Threatened by urban and agricultural development, and commercial exploitation of starch from roots of wild collected plants, remaining populations exist in Florida and Georgia. The species is an larval food source for the atala butterfly. This collecting trip focused on northernmost and northwesternmost populations currently under-represented in ex situ collections. Plants growing in these areas may provide a source of exceptionally cold-hardy traits, useful for both conservation and other research purposes. Propagules will be distributed to public gardens in Florida, California, and Hawaii.   

View report.