NC's Rare Plants

From the mountains to the sea, North Carolina is one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse states in the southeast. This diversity is exhibited by the over 4000 native species of plants found throughout the Tar Heel State.

Without intervention, however, North Carolina's natural world may soon suffer of plant species loss.

Plant species may be rare for many reasons:

About 75% of the endangered and threatened species in North Carolina require a regular fire regime to reproduce and thrive. An example is the Venus Flytrap. Found only in the Carolinas, this carnivorous plant thrives most when its habitat is burned approximately every 3 years. If the fire return cycle is lengthened and fires are suppressed, Venus Flytrap can be completely lost from a site.

NC Plant Conservation Program

With the passage of the Plant Protection and Conservation Act in 1979, the State of North Carolina established the NC Plant Conservation Program in the Department of Agriculture.

The Program's responsibilities include:

Since 1996, the NC Plant Conservation Program in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs has applied for NC Natural Heritage Trust Funds and Clean Water Management Trust Funds to acquire properties with State listed plant species for protection in Plant Conservation Preserves.
Currently there are 18 preserves statewide that protect 15 listed species. 
    The Mountain region has 7 preserves totaling 1778 acres.
    The Piedmont region has 6 preserves totaling 796 acres.
    The Coastal plain region has 5 preserves totaling 9259 acres. 
The NC Plant Conservation Program collaborates with owners of other sites with listed plants including NC State Parks and Natural areas, State Forests and Gamelands, NC Department of Transportation right-of-ways, military bases, utility right-of ways, local governments, local and national land trusts, and private property owners to protect and manage their sites.

To do all of this, the NC Plant Conservation Program has only one state-funded position. An additional 1.5 position is funded on a year-to-year basis by federal grants. Efforts are underway to ensure that the Program gets the additional staff it needs in order to fulfill its mandate.

The NC Plant Conservation Program staff works with several state agencies, academic institutions, and land trusts in achieving its mission through management agreements.  Many local, state, and federal employees volunteer their time and services on restoration and management efforts, along with volunteers from correctional institutions, the NC Native Plant Society, the NC Botanical Garden, school groups, local citizens and neighbors.

If you are interested in volunteering with the NC Plant Conservation Program in protecting rare plants or know or own properties available for protection, contact or or call them at 919-733-3610 x 250.


Officially organized in December 2004 by  Al Elder, Hollis Wild, and Gene Cross,
the Friends of Plant Conservation seeks to:

The Friends of Plant Conservation Foundation supports North Carolina Plant Conservation Program (NCPCP) efforts to conserve and protect North Carolina’s imperiled native plants in their habitats.

Through advocacy, education, partnerships, and fundraising and development, the Friends of Plant Conservation Foundation insures that all NC imperiled plants are protected in their natural habitats through a statewide network of conserved or preserved sites and NC citizens’ commitment to environmental stewardship.  

Visit the Friends of Plant Conservation at

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