Fellow Story

One-fifth of New England's plant life threatened, Farnsworth quoted

From picturesque coastal estuaries of Cape Cod to the soaring White Mountains, much of New England's rich native flora is fighting for survival against increasing odds, according to what conservationists call the most comprehensive accounting ever made of the region's plant life.

The report, to be released Thursday by the New England Wild Flower Society, studied more than 3,500 known plant species and determined that 22 percent are considered rare, in decline, endangered or possibly extinct. Many plants also range over a much smaller geographical area than they once did.

Another statistic that researchers found alarming: More than 30 percent of current plant species are not native to the region. Non-native or invasive species often compete with and crowd out existing plants.


"It's not all gloom and doom," said Elizabeth Farnsworth, the organization's senior research ecologist. The overall diversity of New England plant life still compares favorably with many other regions in the U.S., she said, and many plants continue to flourish in part because of successful ongoing conservation initiatives.

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