Rare Plant Program Trains Scientists in Southern Illinois

Plants of Concern, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s citizen science rare-plant monitoring program, made steps toward extending its boundaries to southern Illinois. Many rare plants occur in southern Illinois, and local communities want to assess the health of these plant populations. However, they currently lack a standardized method of large-scale monitoring of rare plants. Plants of Concern (POC) scientists traveled to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC) in mid-May to train members of Dr. David Gibson’s lab in rare-plant monitoring techniques as part of a U.S. Forest Service project. With the goal of learning by doing, POC demonstrated its protocol in a group field day, monitoring four rare species at various sites in the Shawnee National Forest, including the endangered Illinois heart-leaved plantain (Plantago cordata).  

Gretel Kiefer, manager of Plants of Concern, said, “We are really excited to partner with conservation organizations working in and around the Shawnee National Forest. Using the Plants of Concern monitoring protocol will improve rare-plant conservation in southern Illinois.”  

Documenting and monitoring rare-plant populations are key to plant conservation. The Chicago Botanic Garden has this expertise and wants to share it.