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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

California Native Plant Society

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Garden Clubs, Land Resources Conservation, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection

Mission: The mission of CNPS is to conserve California native plants and their natural habitats, and increase understanding, appreciation, and horticultural use of native plants.

Results: CNPS is helping make the home gardener more environmentally friendly with our online tool, Calscape, found on our home page. Our citizen science initiative, the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt, is locating and helping rare plants across the state. Recently, we successfully petitioned for the first plant in nearly a decade to be added to the California Endangered Species list, the Livermore tarplant, known to only two populations in the East Bay. Donate online by going to our homepage, cnps.org.

Target demographics: conserve California's native plants and their natural habitats for all of our citizens

Direct beneficiaries per year: educate tens of thousands of people, influence policy and land management practices, and identify and protect rare plant species.

Geographic areas served: California

Programs: Vegetation science, Rare Plant science, Horticulture science, Education, and Conservation. Since 1965, CNPS has worked hard to protect California's native plant heritage and preserve it for future generations. CNPS actively promotes the use of science in land use and management decisions through education and advocacy at all levels of government. We work closely with decision-makers, scientists, and local planners to advocate for well-informed and environmental friendly policies, regulations, and land management practices. Our public online databases, Rare Plant Inventory and Manual of California Vegetation, are the most advanced resources available for identifying rare species and managing critical habitat in California, and our horticultural database, Calscape.org, helps Californians create pollinator-supporting habitat in their yards and gardens.

Community Stories

45 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

I adore CNPS, a focused, determined, kind nonprofit working to save the most vulnerable of our earth’s species, plants. CNPS is effective and efficient at their mission, using member dues wisely and partnering with members. I feel encouraged every day when I look at my garden and native plants and know I’m helping. That’s what CNPS does for me, for us, for the planet.

Patti B.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Retired nursery/landscape professional - A joy to browse their FB page. I've developed favorites amounst the many amazing photographers posting there.

Greg M.5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I always learn from the posts on this site. Good info and photos.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Always my go to resource for native plant identification and tips on cultivation. It's time to live more responsibly on our neighborhoods and CNPS helps make it happen.

1 Justin M.6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I’ve been involved directly and passively with C.N.P.S for over 2 decades. Its escalation from passion has lead to a huge propagation of enthusiasts. Casual-professional, I’m convinced, C.N.P.S is the core value to California’s heritage.

1 Maxwel S.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Happy to have a place to learn and grow
Great work with conservation and maintaining the natural ecosystem

1 Kandis G.

Donor

Rating: 5

I learn so much about the benefits of native plants through their educational events, newsletter, and CalScape website. I appreciate that they advocate for protecting open space and habitat for rare plants. California’s amazing biodiversity is at risk and they are helping with solutions.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Between their assistance with plant identification, review of rare plants, educating the public about the need to protect our natural environment, and amazing training opportunities for me and other colleagues, CNPS is a true treasure, making not only me better, but all of California.

2 Danny M.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This group does great things at the state amd local level, from conservation to advocacy to science to education to promoting native gardens and growing native plants. The local chapters provide an excellent opportunity for learning and getting involved. They have helped me learn my local native flora and transform my yard into a little slice of wild California and saved some places that I love going to.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Excellent educational outreach on Facebook.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/38417209275/

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wonderful people so willing to share what they know! Offers frequent programs, walks and information on Native Plants at no cost and even serve refreshments. The Native Plant movement is working to save biodiversity and we all know how important that is today. Great organization. Has my support.

1 Chancy W.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization has opened my eyes to just about every aspect of identification of flora, and to vital issues of conservation in my native California. They are focused. Excellent non-profit group.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

They work hard to protect and educate the importance of our native plants.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

CNPS is a great group for anyone with any bit of interest in the outdoors or flowers - whether in the garden or out in the wild. If you want to turn your yard into a great sanctuary for yourself and native insects and animals, come spend time with CNPS. Take hikes with local chapters, learn more about plants, and meet people with similar interests. Volunteer pulling invasive plants, watering or selling plants at the native plant sales. There are so many great things to do with CNPS. It’s up to you if you want to adopt the “plant nerd” title for yourself.

2 Dave L.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This group has been absolutely amazing in helping me identify plants I find in my workplace and in the mountain region I live in. So many friendly knowledgeable and helpful members.

1 Hannah K.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The best organization that protects and conserves native plants. CNPS is very active all throughout the golden state and is consistently monitoring rare plants, taking legal actions , and so much more.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Starting in 2011, CNPS has taught me what native plants are, that they're important in their own right, and that they're important for pollinators and whole ecosystems. My local Yerba Buena Chapter (of San Francisco) has taught me there are hundreds of plants native to San Francisco. So I have given my backyard and even some neighborhood plots back to native plants, using plants with a local heritage (i.e., not from other parts of California).

I've also volunteered with CNPS to conduct plant sales, do community outreach and to remove weeds from Significant Natural Resource Areas managed by Rec and Park. Weeds, habitat conversion/fragmentation/degradation and climate disruption are major threats to the survival of California's biodiversity. And California is one of 36 internationally recognized biodiversity hotspots.

CNPS has taught me that native plants are environmentally correct and require little inputs. My neighbors plant non-native and some invasive plants. However, native plants are drought tolerant, provide food and shelter that wildlife co-evolved with them, and may even be considered rare, threatened or locally significant. I am proud to have given back habitat to these indigenous plants. In the photos from my backyard are purple color fiesta flower, miner's lettuce (the plant that sustained Gold Rush miners) and wild cucumber (not edible); pink color clarkia, aka farewell-to-spring; and a fern, California polypody.

I think it's important for us to support CNPS, because CNPS has positive impacts on our environment. Virtually all other human activities have negative impacts. While we can try to minimize our negative impacts on the environment, we can also increase our positive impacts. CNPS has 35 chapters, each one specializing in plants indigenous to its area. At the State level, CNPS strives to conserve what's left of open spaces.

1 Brian163

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a life long nursery professional, arborist and horticulture consultant as well as a California native I have found so many amazing people within the California Native Plant Society who have shared their passion and knowledge with me. The pride and dedication to preserve and educate others about the wonderful native plants of out great state is unmatched in my experience. No matter your experience or knowledge this gtoup will teach you something every day. That is what life is all about.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

These people are keepers of knowledge, inspired to service through passion and appreciation. Endless advocacy, education, planting, weeding, field trips and communications. The plant realm needs them today more than ever. These photos show common yarrow, California brittlebush & California buckwheat found in my city.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

When it was time to replace my lawn with drought tolerant plants, they provided education, assistance with selection, historical framing of the importance of native plants, and made drought tolerant landscaping accessible to me. Their services and nursery made re-landscaping affordable and helped me to understand the importance of native plants.

1 Rebecca188

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Fabulous non-profit. The CNPS does a great job locally, with its chapters, and on a statewide level with resources, trainings, and conservation work.

1 Kate103

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Great organization! Especially important here in the San Joaquin Valley, where native plants are few and far between, and drought is having a tremendous impact on both agricultural and natural habitats.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We follow each other on Twitter, where I enjoy their useful tips and important stories.

Native plants can save money, by saving water, and can save species by providing food and habitat. Plant native!
-SaunieInDiego

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a backyard gardener. Interested in using native plants to create a natural ecosystem. Calif. Native Plant Society has been marvelous as an informational resource, and a place to purchase healthy native plants at reasonable prices. Their annual plant sale is a must do for me every year.

1 Laura317

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for CNPS for over 10 years. The society is volunteer driven with local chapters, and a fantastic resource to learn about amazing native plants and related topics like gardening, butterflies, habitats, geology, etc. etc. CNPS is an important voice, speaking for the deserts, the wild spaces, the people who need connections with our heritage. California's flora is one of the most incredible in the world, and CNPS is striving to protect it and helping us all to understand it better.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started attending California Native Plant Society's free library lectures to learn about California native plants. Then I joined the society and now I volunteer to teach others about the unique flora of California and how important it is to preserve the unique ecosystems. I have learned much, and seen much. I'm also impressed at how many people contribute to the organization on a volunteer basis. It is an important institution.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

CNPS placer county wikdflowers, and shrubs and trees books have been an invaluable resource. They are masterpieces and have helped plan our natives garden that will attract butterflies, bees, other beneficials and hummingbirds. CNPS's collaborative role in Calscape is monumental. Excellent organization for supporting habitat reatoration one home garden at a time. Great also for organic gardening. CNPS is simply the best!

1 Guy_4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

CNPS was instrumental in getting me to a nearly water free front yard. After taking out over 1000 sq feet of grass, they helped me to learn about the new, Native plants I should be growing.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

California Native Plant Society is an exceptionally informative and supportive group, focused primarily on education and real outreach. They assist in everything from identifying plants on social media, to consulting with land use planners on best practices to maintain or restore native habitats. Their reach goes far beyond just plants, because when native plant habitats are preserved, whole areas and ecosystems are preserved. CNPS is non-judgmental and always mindful that they operate in the real world. They have become an excellent resource and community to thousands, and will continue to grow in importance as pressures increase on native ecosystems.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The California Native Plant Society works to preserve the flora of our wild spaces, and in today's world of invasive weeds, that work is so important. People are becoming complacent and accepting of the hodgepodge of invasive weeds in our wild places and are often not even aware that they are not native. I've been tending an ecological restoration plot on West Cliff Drive, a scenic coastal walk in Santa Cruz popular with locals and tourists alike. When I chat with passers by, I find they are not even aware that the smothering blanket of ice plant is an invasive exotic plant from South Africa - planted in a bad mistake made many years ago. Along West Cliff Drive there are virtually no other plants growing on the bluffs. Without native flora, many native insects can't breed. Without insects - no birds - it's all a web that starts with soil, and includes all living things - take away any key component and we can have ecological disaster. CNPS champions our amazing and varied flora - over 7,000 native species - and seeks to protect areas where rare plants grow. I've volunteered with CNPS for a few years now and stepped up to local chapter board a couple years ago. I enjoy the guided hikes, the propagation group and the great resources about gardening with natives. It's a wonderful organization full of hardworking and committed individuals, and I encourage all people living in California to join.

1 Tripp M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My work with CNPS began some three years ago, when my curiosity and interest in California native plants put me in contact with local CNPS members conducting field trips in the Sierra foothills region.

At first, my activity consisted of attending field trips and meetings of various speakers, and occasionally helping out on service projects like invasive plant removal. However, my activity with the group soon escalated as I discovered how serious and dedicated a group of people was the local chapter, and in less than a year I found myself assisting in a summer-long project with two professional botanists on an extensive lava cap plant community survey throughout the Eldorado National Forest, a scientific project that led to my own photo project on native plants in our region that has now had three exhibitions of the work.

While my work and respect for the local group and individuals deepened, I came into direct contact with the state organization of CNPS, and soon discovered that my experience in the local chapter was a reflection of the mission and goals, as well as dedication, of the state organization and staff, that have a proud history of informational, scientific, and advocacy work on behalf of California's native flora. From educating gardeners throughout the state about how to incorporate native plants into their landscape, to directing and carrying out sophisticated computer mapping surveys of California native vegetation in conjunction with various state agencies, to publication of scientific as well as popular books on native flora, CNPS provides a broad support structure for people working professionally "in the field" as well as people like myself, working in their own backyards and local forests or deserts to protect, identify, use or grow our native plant heritage.

Without CNPS, a great deal more of California's often rare and unique plants would have been lost to ignorance, development, carelessness and lack of understanding and education. But because of CNPS, California is able to share with the world it's uniquely diverse floral heritage with future generations. There is no other organization in our state that covers such a range of activity, both general public and scientific, on behalf of our native flora, and CNPS is in fact a model for similar work in other states and regions in our nation, perhaps the world.

Our plants, and our future, would be even more endangered without it.

1 maryfrances40

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an almost 50 year old conservation organization which strives to protect native plants throughout California. It is science based and has developed a listing of rare and endangered plants which are used by many other people and organizations. It has a large volunteer base. It has well respected programs to teach children about nature. There are 34 local chapters and many of those have free educational programs to teach people about California native and why it is important to protect them.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

CNPS is the one and only scientificly based plant conservation organization in CA. CNPS has earned great respect from the regulatory agencies on its listing of endangered plants in CA. CNPS will soon celebrate 50 years of educating the general public and the regulators about native plants. CNPS is also the second oldest plant society in the country. Without preserving native plants and their habitat all the doe eyed animals in the world would not survive but animals have a better lobby than plants! I knew very little about native plants when I first became involved. CNPS has taught me about native plants and was instramental in my deciding to remove my lawns and plant native gardens. I have been thrilled with the results and all the birds and other critters which call my garden their home now.

1 Arlene10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

CNPS provides the support I need to grow my landscaping business with native plants of California, many of which are endangered. The public has shown increasing support to landscaping with the incredible diversity of species native to California, and the results are spectacular. It is a revolution of how we manage the land, and I see great future for the society. Their field trips have inspired me and connected me with valuable networks in the profession I am passionate about. They are very active with their members and I appreciate their workshops and outreach efforts.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a botanist and Environmental Consultant in California, I have worked with CNPS information and programs for over 20years. Their work to classify native CA plants and communities and evaluate threats and risks is outstanding. What CNPS does is essential to applying CA's legal protection to natural resources through the CEQA and federal regulations such as the NEPA and the ESA. CNPS also has good programs for public awareness, landscaping with natives, habitat restoration, and many more. The close connections between local chapters and state CNPS works well to ensure the entire state and all audiences have the most useful help.

I've also worked in other western US states and can compare the high quality of CNPS very favorably with what exists ( or doesn't) elsewhere. During my time working with CNPS, I've seen their publications go from text only computer print outs of lists and tables (in the 1980s) to color photo filled books of great value to both lay and professional users. Nothing is glossy just for cosmetic value; these quality publications serve both professionals and gardeners, and help hikers identify the rare plants encountered. Considering the myriad habitat types and large number of vegetation resources in CA, this undertaking requires enormous efforts and close attention.

I don't know how Environmental Consultants, botanists and other plant scientists could conduct their work in CA without the vast resources of CNPS. I know that our rare plants and plant communities would be greatly diminished, many extirpated or extinct, without the advocacy and programs of CNPS.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a member of CNPS for many years. They have inspired me to make over my garden with native plants. CNPS provides any and all the information I could possibly need, first hand or through links to relevant partners. Books, maps, seminars, lectures, regular meetings, dedicated nurseries are all available to members and often to the community at large. Annual native garden tours are a wealth of information not only for help in choosing appropriate plants but also for ideas for infrastructure utilizing solar, eco-irrigation/graywater, insect and fauna habitat etc. One has immediate contact and conversation with local experts in these fields.
Their educational outreach in the realm of local political, community and land-use concerns is most comprehensive and effective.

Debra50

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

CA Native Plant Society's plant sales and educational events are helping a lot of Californians including myself learn about and plant California native plants. Great way to save water and money as a homeowner. Great for the environment and native birds of California! Their work helps to counter the the effects of the disappearing landscape brought on by development.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a lot of fun on a CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt and learned so much. It is great to know that a hike can contribute to environmental conservation in California.

Roger K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

CNPS provides a full range of information about native plants, for everyone from the novice newby to the experienced professional. They support and promote the kind of on-the-ground scientific research that's desperately needed in today's rapidly changing world. I've learned a lot by being a CNPS member, and I'm glad to share my knowledge with others in the CNPS community.

Celina H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The native plant society provided practical pictures and information to help you grow and enjoy our California native plants. The native plants are important so that we can provide habitat for our native animal species. Now I have tons of life teaming in my yard.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with CNPS since 2005 and have learned so much and met tons of interesting, bright and dedicated people who love the natural world. CNPS at the state level does a lot of valuable work in state-wide vegetation mapping, conservation, education/outreach and rare plant research, working together with state and federal agencies. Each local chapter also has its own activities such as outreach events, field trips, educational grants, plant sales, speakers, gardening symposiums and more.
Chapters draw members with a variety of interests, - from native plant gardening to botany to conservation to just enjoying being out in and learning about nature.

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is composed of people passionate about protecting native plants and their habitats and promoting their use in horticulture. Each chapter has their legends about the vitality and eccentricities of their core volunteers who accomplish an incredible amount of productive and scientific work to fulfill the goals of the society. The staff (few as they are) are amazingly resourceful and attentive to the needs of their members as well as to the future of the society. Native plants, unlike wildlife, have few legal protections from destruction, but CNPS does its best to give them status, including developing and updating the comprehensive rare plant inventory that is universally used by botanists and ecologists to assess species rareity. I'm always amazed that so few active CNPS people can do so much! My one complaint is that the society is not well known by the general public.

15

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The CNPS fills a vital role in conservation of native plants and landscapes in California. They are active in education, advocacy, research, publications, and volunteer efforts throughout the state. I have been extremely impressed by the professionalism of the staff and volunteer chapter members, as well as the feeling of all-inclusiveness and high standards to scientific inquiry that they maintain. I have been a member of other state native plant societies. CNPS is extremely active, especially in working to protect sensitive plants and habitats via education, legislation, and advocacy, including working with other advocacy groups. It is imperative to help fund their work to maintain a strong CNPS presence in the state.

13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This group gets it about having both very active, local chapters focused on local matters; and a statewide organization that works for common interests for the state. It is an effective organization in its goals of education and conservation both at the local and statewide level. It can also be a lot of fun.

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I attended the terrific conference in Sacramento (on my own nickel) and found it well worthwhile. Much useful information, and I enjoyed the speakers Ringo and Hopper. Couldn't attend the evening banquet due to lousy public transport in Sacramento. I am a retired plant breeder, recently moved to the Big Valley (Lodi area) from the Monterey Bay. Thanks for a great conference, though a bit pricey for those of us with no sponsor. I will be working with invasive plant issues on the Mokelumne River and the Cosumnes, being a docent in the Lodi Lake Natural Area, doing water-saving workshops in our local nursery, trying to help out. Thanks for a great conference. Only comments: education outreach for native habitat gardens, through parks and schools, need to be enhanced. Count me in! Josie C can contact me any time for help in this, my services are Free! I also am a speaker for the Calif. Invasive Plant Council, and am available for any sort of visit to do the excellent powerpoint that they have provided.