Pennsylvania Listed Plants
The wild plants that form the ecological foundations of the Commonwealth’s ecosystem are impacted by conversion of our natural lands and waters for agriculture, housing, and industry. In addition to loss of habitat, invasive species introduced from elsewhere in the world are contributing to the decline of many of our native species. Threatened and endangered plants are on the leading edge of this decline.
Pennsylvania laws for the conservation of native wild plants authorize the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to establish a plant classification system, create permit and license procedures and regulate other activities related to this Commonwealth’s native wild plant management. In addition, the Wild Resources Conservation Act mandated the Wild Resource Conservation Board to establish a comprehensive management plan, with management objectives for Pennsylvania's flora and fauna. There are currently 604 plant species listed in Pennsylvania’s Chapter 45 Conservation of Native Wild Plants regulation. The Bureau of Forestry is currently in the process of updating these regulations.
Pennsylvania Endangered—A classification of plant species which are in danger of extinction throughout most or all of their natural range within this Commonwealth, if critical habitat is not maintained or if the species is greatly exploited by man. This classification also includes populations of plant species that have been classified as Pennsylvania Extirpated, but which subsequently are found to exist in this Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania Extirpated—A classification of plant species believed by the Department to be extinct within this Commonwealth. The plants may or may not exist outside this Commonwealth. If plant species classified as Pennsylvania Extirpated are found to exist, the species automatically will be considered to be classified as Pennsylvania Endangered.
Pennsylvania Rare—A classification of plant species which are uncommon within this Commonwealth because they may be found in restricted geographic areas or in low numbers throughout this Commonwealth.
Pennsylvania Threatened—A classification of plant species which may become endangered throughout most or all of their natural range within this Commonwealth, if critical habitat is not maintained to prevent their further decline in this Commonwealth, or if the species is greatly exploited by man.
Pennsylvania Vulnerable—A classification of plant species which are in danger of population decline within this Commonwealth because of their beauty, economic value, use as a cultivar or other factors which indicate that persons may seek to remove these species from their native habitats.
Special Concern Population—A classification that is composed of colonies, groups or single individuals of a plant species that the Department has determined to be a unique occurrence deserving protection. Among the factors that may be used to classify a plant population within this category are the existence of unusual geographic locations, unisexual populations or extraordinarily diverse plant populations.
Tentatively Undetermined—A classification of plant species which are believed to be in danger of population decline, but which cannot presently be included within another classification due to taxonomic uncertainties, limited evidence within historical records or insufficient data.
Unlisted—Plant species which are native to this Commonwealth, presently capable of sustaining their populations successfully, not in need of protection currently and currently not included in classifications under this chapter.
Wild plants—Naturally occurring native flora, except those commonly considered an agricultural commodity, including green and non-green species or subspecies, variety or a part, product, seed or progeny thereof.
Current Number of Species listed under Chapter 45
The Pennsylvania Biological Survey-Vascular Plant Technical Committee serves as advisor to the Commonwealth on issues related to the conservation of its native flora. Botanists from colleges and universities, natural history museums, conservation organizations and state and federal agencies provide data, advice and guidance to the DCNR–Bureau of Forestry. Annual review sessions recommend additions to or changes in the status of plants classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened, or rare under state regulations.
The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) conducts inventories and collects data regarding the Commonwealth's native biological diversity. Information is stored in an integrated data management system consisting of map, manual, and computer files.