Plant conservation at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum dates back to its horticultural routes in 1958, and founding director Leon Snyder, PhD. As a horticultural expert, Snyder routinely studied, planted, led and monitored new plantings, native plants, and often plant species in the landscape that are now the Arboretum and the Horticultural Research Center. Certain trees and plants that Snyder introduced at the Arboretum still thrive more than six decades later.
In 2011, the Arboretum joined the Center for Plant Conservation, a non-profit network of institutions dedicated to conserving and restoring American’s native plants. Through this network, scientists work in research, restoration, technical assistance, education and advocacy on behalf of rare and endangered plant species.
Important partners such as the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club have been instrumental in sponsoring research and preservation of species, such as the Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily.
In 2013, the Arboretum’s Plant Conservation Program dedicated an important program of endangered species research, conservation and restoration. The program’s two main areas of focus are endangered species of the upper Midwest and native orchids of Minnesota. The Arboretum seeks to conserve individual species as well as perform research to both understand the species worked with and to be able to propagate and restore each species to a natural landscape (or to the Arboretum grounds). Many of the plants handled at the Arboretum are not easily seen in their natural habitats, but by bringing them to the Arboretum visitors are given the chance to see some of these rare treasures while also educating about the need for increased conservation efforts.
The program’s primary focus is on work with endangered species that tend to be either federally or state listed. Another specialized focus of this program is work to preserve and protect Minnesota’s 48 native orchid species.