What is the California Native Plant Society?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is an organization which promotes conservation, appreciation, and study of native plant species in the American state of California in a variety of ways. Membership in the Society is welcome to anyone, and members can participate in the mission of the organization in a variety of settings. Amateurs often work right alongside with professionals to document and preserve native vegetation in California, and to educate the general public about the wide range of amazing native plant species which can be found throughout the state in many different ecosystems.

The organization was founded in the East Bay Area in 1965, and it quickly expanded to become statewide. Members pay annual dues to the California Native Plant Society to support the various goals and projects of the organization. The California Native Plant Society is organized into 32 local chapters; members usually work with their regional chapter, although they may assist or cooperate with other chapters on major projects. The organization also works with other botanical and environmental groups on major projects which share the common goal of preserving California's natural habitat.


There are several aspects to the California Native Plant Society. One of the major goals of the organization is to increase appreciation for and understanding of native plants in California. The group studies plant populations across the state extensively to this end, and it also leads nature walks, workshops, and other educational activities for the general public to increase native plant awareness. Many botanical gardens in California have large native plant collections, thanks to the work of California Native Plant Society chapters.

In addition, the California Native Plant Society has a large conservation program. The group works to increase native plant populations around the state by eradicating invasive species on both public and private lands. The group also acts to preserve plant habitats, and it supports legislation which promotes native species conservation. Members may work on plant surveys, take to the field to eradicate invasive species, or establish personal gardens of native plants. The group also works on land use management, and encourages a value for natural landscapes.

Because California is such a big state, there are a number of different plant habitats, ranging from redwood forests to sand dunes. The California Native Plant Society surveys and researches all of these areas, with biologists studying unique environments like the pygmy forest, the desert, and the high mountains. These varying vegetated areas are an important part of California ecology, and the CNPS works to ensure that they will be available for future generations to study and appreciate.


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