Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Horticulture Club Will Rescue Rare Native Plants

Dawn Pomraning, former President of the Horticulture Club at Haywood Community College. Dawn has been extremely active in expanding the activities of the Horticulture Club to include activities related to regional sustainability and ecology. She is currently working with her successor Don Smallwood to continue the great legacy of this student run organization.

College club plans to rescue rare plants
published March 20, 2007 4:58 pm - Asheville Citizen Times - Haywood County News

FINES CREEK — While land development in the mountains may be inevitable, losing rare flora may not be.

A group of local horticulture students plans to extract a variety of rare medicinal plants and herbs from a wooded Fines Creek property set for development and replant them on the grounds of the college and elsewhere.

The Haywood Community College Horticulture Club hopes their efforts will move others to similar action.

“Some of these plants are near extinction, and if they disappear, they are gone forever,” said Dawn Pomraning, a horticulture student who is spearheading the effort.

“So what we are trying to do is continue the legacy of these endangered plants and herbs,” she said.

Pomraning said the property owner has given the group permission to take the plants from the land. Some of the plants include lady slipper, maidenhair fern, trillium and blue cohosh, she said. Many of them are used for physical healing, she said.

Carolina Least Trillium is listed as endangered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture. Other plants to be rescued are considered rare or threatened by some environmental groups due to their scarcity within the state.

A local plant enthusiast from Fines Creek suggested the rescue to Pomraning a few months ago. The work has garnered the attention the United Plant Savers, a Vermont-based group that works to preserve medicinal plants across the country.

Betzy Bancroft, a representative of Plant Savers, said herbal plants are threatened nationwide by over harvesting and loss of habitat from development.

She said small plant rescues are important to the overall survival of local species.

“When you transplant local genotypes, plants that are adapted to a particular area … you are preserving your local gene pool,” Bancroft saud.

George Thomas, Horticulture Instructor at Haywood Community College, explains potential career tracks to an interested local high school student at campus wide opportunity showcase.

George Thomas, a horticulture instructor at the college, said this is the first time students in his department have gotten involved in preserving native plants.

“Anything involving plants, and native species especially, is something we want to be a part of and it’s also a great opportunity for us to help out our environment,” Thomas said.

Pomraning said it is important for people to be aware of the types of plants on their property and contact a local agency if they plan to get rid of rare plants.

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