top of page

MONTHLY MEETING: Preserving San Diego County Native Plants

Calochortus dunnii (Dunn's mariposa lily) is one of the species whose seeds are part of the Native Plant Seed Bank.

Dudleya brevifolia (Short-leaved dudleya)

April is Native Plant Month and on Monday April 9, 2018, the San Diego Horticultural Society welcomes three researchers from the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research who are dedicated to preserving our native species.

Stacy Anderson, Joe Davitt, and Tobin Weatherson will discuss their work at the Native Plant Seed Bank. Using a variety of methods to dry, freeze and store seeds, they are conserving and rescuing many of San Diego County’s indigenous plant species. The seeds stored in the Native Plant Seed Bank provide insurance against catastrophic loss in the wild, protect against erosion of genetic diversity by habitat fragmentation and loss, offer material for research into germination cues and propagation, and provide material for restoration. Each seed collection conserves the invaluable genetic material of thousands of individuals from a plant population. Over 550 such collections reside in the freezers at the Beckman Center and the Botanical Conservation Center, representing over 375 unique plant taxa.

The Seed Bank has already contributed to the preservation of San Diego's native habitat. Seed has been withdrawn from the bank to propagate plants to improve the habitat of coastal cactus wrens and other coastal sage scrub dependent plants and animals. Tecate cypress seeds have been propagated in order to establish a field gene bank to provide large amounts of seed should one of the three remaining populations in the county be consumed by fire.

While many people are familiar with the San Diego Zoo’s efforts to rescue and conserve animal populations, this presentation will showcase a mission of the Zoo that is seldom seen. In some ways, this mission is even more important to horticulturalists, since its goal is to conserve plants from our own back yard.

About the Speakers

Stacy Anderson serves San Diego Zoo Global as a Research Coordinator in Plant Conservation. She leads the efforts of the Native Plant Seed Bank to collect seed from wild plant populations as part of the Millennium Seed Bank Project, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the federal Seeds of Success program. Stacy also works closely with the Safari Park’s Horticulture department to collect seeds for our Botanical Asset Protection Plan.

Joe Davitt serves San Diego Zoo Global as a Research Associate in Plant Conservation. Part of Joe’s work involves supporting the California Plant Rescue Initiative, a collaboration involving botanical gardens throughout California and the Center for Plant Conservation.

In his work for the Institute's Plant Conservation Division, Tobin Weatherson collects seeds from threatened native plant species. He then germinates the seeds at the Zoo and, once the plants have grown, he collects the seeds for reintroduction back in the wild.

The evening starts at 6:00 PM at the Congregation Beth Israel, 9001 Towne Centre Drive, San Diego. Parking is free and everyone is welcome. Admission is free for SDHS members and $15 for non-members. For more information, call (619) 296-9215 or visit

bottom of page