Submitted to: American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta The Public Garden
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/15/2005
Publication Date: 5/25/2005
Citation: Allenstein, P., Conrad, K. 2005. National plant germplasm system and North American plant collections consortium: A decade of collaboration. Public Gardens. 3:14-16 and 37.
Technical Abstract: The plant collections of botanical gardens and arboreta in North America represent a significant repository of plant diversity from throughout the world. Including more than 100,000 acres and half a million diverse collections, the nearly 500 institutional members of AABGA can be a major force in ex situ conservation. Some of these collections protect rare or endangered species. Others are significant because of their size and completeness in representing a taxonomic group. Still others conserve cultural heritage through collections of historical and current cultivars with exceptional horticultural characteristics. They are of economic importance to the $49 billion ornamental plant industry and are the mainstays for the finest displays in public and private gardens. These collections represent a priceless genetic heritage that is important to conservation efforts, nursery growers, breeding programs, and the search for bioactive medicinal compounds. Working independently, gardens and arboreta often duplicate efforts investing valuable institutional resources into the same taxa while many threatened species remain unprotected. Collaborative efforts coordinated on a national level can help identify these duplications and gaps in the collections, and can maximize the potential value of collections at individual arboreta and botanical gardens. This article focuses on one such collaboration between the United States Department of Agriculture and the AABGA to develop the North American Plant Collections Consortium.