Living Museum Collection of Native Plants
Curation & Acquisitions
Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve has been an accredited museum through the American Alliance of Museums (www.aam-us.org) since 1989. There are approximately 60 botanical gardens in the U.S. with AAM accreditation, but the Preserve is the first native plant collection to be recognized.
Flora of the Preserve
The entire flora of the Preserve currently includes nearly 700 species, and features wildflowers, as its name suggests, as well as trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, sedges, rushes and ferns. Of those 700 species, approximately 200 are part of the Preserve’s Living Museum Collection, which is comprised of species that have special status designations. These species are being responsibly stewarded to promote the ecological and educational value of the property, as well as for the enjoyment of all who visit. There are three categories of plants in the Living Museum Collection: the permanent collection, the education collection and the research collection. The permanent collection consists of those species designated as having either a “rare, threatened or endangered” conservation status in Pennsylvania, are candidates for such status, or otherwise have high floristic quality. The Preserve aims to be a “sanctuary” for these species of concern by securely protecting them on our grounds. Annual monitoring of these species drives management and stewardship decisions regarding their ongoing conservation. The Preserve is proud to hold our permanent collection of native plants in the public trust, fulfilling the mission to promote native plant conservation in our region. The education collection consists of other significant or attractive plants that are native to our ecoregion The Preserve aims to educate others and inspire the appreciation and use of these designated species in order to:
- familiarize the local community with their presence in our area, and
- promote them as a part of our rich natural heritage.
The research collection consists of selected species held for the purpose of active horticultural or conservation research, which advances the Preserve’s aim to serve as an “educational resource for conservation and stewardship” through the study of these species, and through the sharing of our findings. In order to assess the status of all plant species at the Preserve, a team of scientists and experts periodically conduct a phytoblitz (an intense period of plant survey) to identify species present, update preserve records and inform future management decisions.
The Preserve’s curator collects, propagates and introduces plants of local provenance to the Preserve in order to ensure the stewardship of native species. The curator also collaborates with local and state agencies, such as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and nonprofits, such as the Natural Lands Trust, to propagate rare, threatened and endangered species. These collections are then planted at the Preserve and if appropriate, also out in the community as part of restoration efforts.
Plants of particular interest to the Preserve are those that have the potential to improve the genetic variability of a given species, especially by introducing more plants of local provenance, thereby improving the viability and/or success of that species
Occasionally, the curator will consider collecting and/or accepting plant(s) or seeds that have been brought to his attention by either Preserve members or persons (or organizations) outside of the Preserve.
Plants of particular interest to the Preserve are those that have the potential to improve the genetic variability of a given species, especially by introducing, on site, more plants of local provenance--thereby improving the viability and/or success of that species on the property. Alternatively, if a species is not currently present on the Preserve, it would be considered for acquisition as long as it is a natural fit for the Preserve because it is currently, or was historically, present in this region.
There are three ways to determine if what you’ve found or are offering might be considered for acquisition:
Salvage refers to rescuing plant(s) from an area scheduled for roadwork or other construction. If you know of an area that is (or will be) under demolition or construction, and that there are ecologically-sensitive areas on that site that are under threat, the curator will conduct an on-site assessment of native plant species. In all cases, the curator will first need to obtain the proper permission/permit from the legal entity/owner under whom the property is held before any assessment/salvage is conducted.
A donation to the Preserve may be considered if you can determine if a given plant species on your property is of naturally occurring (“wild-type”) origin, having never been “planted” there, even after many decades of naturalizing. For seed collection only: The site where the plant is found must be legally under the control of the person offering the specimen (i.e., your own property).
Species or Site Reporting
Occasionally it may be of interest to inform the curator about the existence of a particular plant species found on a site or property that is not under demolition/construction and is not owned by the person reporting the finding (i.e., preserves, parks, watersheds, or government-owned property). In some cases, the species will be identified and its existence noted for reporting purposes only. However, if the species is of particular ecological value to the Preserve, the curator will go through proper legal channels in order to gain access to the site and secure permission and/or permits for seed collection only under the auspices of the Preserve. In all cases, permits secured for this purpose are non-transferable.
Important Note: To ensure that collection of specimens is done properly, please contact the curator first.