ICYMI: Rare Plants Webinar | Cal Parks
Published: November 10, 2022

Did you know that volunteers who join more than one workday event with California State Parks Foundation receive invitations to exclusive online trainings? These trainings are thoughtfully designed to help volunteers expand their knowledge about our state parks and what makes them a source of solitude — for humans and wildlife. This week, California State Parks Foundation teamed up with California Native Plant Society (CNPS) to provide our dedicated volunteers with a unique opportunity that helps deepen their rare plant knowledge. 

Become a California State Parks Foundation volunteer and receive special invitations to upcoming online training events!

About our presenter 

Amy Patten, Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Manager at California Native Plant Society

Amy Patten, Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Manager at California Native Plant Society 

Amy Patten has been a staff member in the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Rare Plant Program since 2018. Through the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt project, she organizes community science events, rare plant surveys, and botanical skills trainings. Before working at CNPS, Amy graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and worked with reptiles, amphibians, and birds as a wildlife biologist. Amy also volunteers at Rancho del Oso in Big Basin Redwoods State Park and loves being in state parks for work and fun!

About the webinar 

During this special event, Amy informed volunteers about what makes up the rarity of plant populations. Rare plants are plants that have very limited geographic ranges or that exist in low numbers. Some are naturally rare, such as those adapted to specific areas. Some plants are particularly vulnerable due to climate change, land use, and disruption by invasive species.

Amy Patten, Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Manager at California Native Plant Society, presenting PPT.

She also described the reality for many rare plants, "rare plants are often in beautiful areas, and you get to go to pristine and remote habitat to see these beautiful plants. But a lot of them are just fighting to co-exist with humans, and they're just hanging on in a few of these habitats that are no longer optimal, but they are still living and doing their best.” 

Can you guess how many rare plants are documented in California’s state parks? Roughly 2,000! With 444 rare plant taxa documented that include species, varieties, and subspecies. This knowledge helps us continue to be advocates for all native, rare, and endangered plant species that promote biodiversity and healthy state parks.

Photo of a flowering Dudley's Lousewort (Pedicularis dudleyi)

"You don't need to be a trained botanist to make cool plant discoveries or contribute to the conservation of native or rare plants.” Amy explained as she shared great resources for rare plant identification.  


Here are a few actions and resources you can use to help identify and conserve rare plants:

  • Connect with your local California State Park staff to find out what rare plants can be found in the park. 

  • Connect with your local California Native Plant Society (CNPS) chapter.  

  • CNPS Rare Plant Inventory: a resource for information about California's rare plants to promote education, scientific research, conservation planning, and effective enforcement of environmental laws. 

  • iNaturalist: a database of observations for all living organisms.  

  • Calfora: a website to learn about plants that grow wild in California.  

Please remember that rare plant data is sensitive and exact locations aren’t available to the general public. We highly recommend working with a park’s environmental scientists and natural resource staff to learn more about rare plants in a park and what information you can share.  

Are you ready to join one of our volunteer workdays and become a proud volunteer that protects and preserves our state parks? Sign up for a workday today!