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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

California Native Plant Society

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, 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.

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 our Online Rare Plant Inventory and essential reference book: Manual of California Vegetation, 2nd Edition, both of which are the most advanced resources available for identifying and managing critical habitat in California. We work closely with decision-makers, scientists, and local planners to advocate for well-informed and environmental friendly policies, regulations, and land management practices.

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.