Rare Plants Protected at Edison Ford
March 20, 2019
Public gardens play an important role in plant conservation, and the gardens at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates are no exception. As habitat loss, climate change, illegal harvesting and other issues continue to threaten the world’s floral biodiversity, public gardens serve as “safe havens” for species that are most vulnerable. At Edison Ford, we have more than 1900 plants in our collection, comprised of more than 750 species. Of those, at least 34 species are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™. This list has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.
It may surprise some that the royal poinciana, Delonix regia, or the bottle palm, Hyophorbe lagenicaulis, make the list. Both are common landscape features in Southwest Florida but are hard to find in their native ranges. Many cycads, including species in our collection, are believed to number less than 500 in the wild.
Edison Ford’s plant data is part of PlantSearch, the only global database of living plants, seeds and tissue collections which is coordinated by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). More than 1,100 institutions participate, allowing researchers and conservationists to contact the keepers of the world’s rarest plants. Through PlantSearch, we discovered that some of the plants we house are found in less than 10 of those institutions, affirming the importance of continuing conservation efforts at multiple gardens.
We hope to highlight some of our rare plants using the “Care for the Rare” program facilitated by BGCI. Look for the informational signs to appear in our garden later this year. In the meantime, you can do your part by making sure all the plants you buy are responsibly grown and not collected from the wild.