WNPS History

Members of the Washington Native Plant Society share a common interest in Washington's unique flora. The Washington Native Plant Society has more than 40 years of activity and involvement in protecting native plants. The small group of individuals who assembled at the Pacific Science Center in 1976 has now grown to nearly 1700 members with twelve active chapters throughout Washington. The charter members envisioned an organization dedicated to the appreciation, conservation and study of Washington's native plants and their habitats. Dr. Art Kruckeberg, professor emeritus of botany at the University of Washington, author of numerous papers and books on horticulture and native plants and initial and continuing force behind the Society, says "We knew it would be successful because the flora of Washington is so extraordinarily rich there would always be people dedicated to its preservation and conservation."

The Society is an important voice for Washington's native plants. It has long supported the protection of rare plant species. Founding members Dr. Art Kruckeberg and Dr. Melinda Denton were instrumental in the identification and development of a rare plant list that has been the foundation of the work of Washington's Natural Heritage Program which maintains a comprehensive information system designed to aid land managers, planners, and researchers to ensure protection of Washington's sensitive plants. The Society has also been vocal in its support of protection for rare endemic species in Olympic National Park threatened by the severe damage caused by the wallowing of mountain goats introduced to the park in the 1920's.

Numerous research projects have been supported by Society funds. Plant succession in the Mt. St. Helens’ blast zone has studied the return of plant species to an area of volcanic devastation. A plant inventory of the Big Beaver Valley in the North Cascades identified a 1,000 year old cedar stand near Ross Lake. As a result of this inventory discovery, and activity by the Washington Native Plant Society, the east half of Big Beaver Valley was protected from flooding by Seattle City Light which had planned to raise the level of Ross Lake to meet the increased consumption needs of Seattle. Research on the rare golden paintbrush helped to ensure its listing as an endangered species.

The Native Plant Stewardship Program is one of the Society’s most successful educational efforts. This program offers training on the importance and use of native plants in restoration and landscaping. In return for the training, Native Plant Stewards contribute volunteer service in community education, habitat protection and habitat restoration. More than 150,000 hours of volunteer service has been logged by these energetic Stewards. "Celebrating Wildflowers" curriculum project is another Society education effort. This project was offered in partnership with the North Cascades Institute, the Mount-Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation. "Celebrating Wildflowers" has provided teacher training workshops throughout Washington to enhance education in the schools about the conservation and appreciation of native plants. The Society also regularly funds small educational projects and efforts throughout Washington.

Other public outreach efforts such as Ivy OUT and Growing Wild have heightened the awareness of the value of native plant ecosystems and sustainable living.

Seven scholarly papers known as Douglasia Occasional Papers have been funded and produced by the Society. They include: Volume 1 (1983) Step by Steppe: Understanding Priest Rapids Plants, Volume 11 (1986) Plant Life of the North Cascades:Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Ridge, Stehekin Valley, and Glacier Peak, Volume III (1988) Plant Life of Washington State: Big Beaver Valley and the Kettle Range, Volume IV (1991) Plant Life of Washington State: Dungeness Spit, Willapa Hills, and Lower Columbia River, Volume V (1994) Plant Life of Washington Territory: Northern Pacific Railroad Survey, Botanical Report 1853-1861, Volume VI (1997) Vegetation Studies Funded by the Washington Native Plant Society, Volume VII (1999) Douglasia Occasional Papers: Original Papers and Research Notes. Volume VIII (2006) A Centenary Survey of Plant Life in Washington State: Retracing the 1892 Collecting Trips of Louis F. Henderson. Volume IX (2009) Lichens of South Lopez Island, San Juan County, Washington State.

Field trips, workshops, study weekends and regular program meetings are offered to Society members.

A quarterly publication Douglasia has been produced since the inception of the Washington Native Plant Society. Activities such as these are a source of continuing education and fellowship.



WNPS Chapter Formation

Chapters are the very heart beat of the Washington Native Plant Society and it is through the chapters that most members learn about native plants.  Chapters hold regular meetings with programs, organize over 100 field trips each year and are involved in various volunteer projects related to native plant restoration, conservation, and education.

Members of the Society are encouraged to form local chapters. Ten or more persons, may organize a chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society with permission from the State Board of Directors.  There are currently twelve active chapters.

Date of Formation  Chapter
1977 Central Puget Sound Chapter
1977 Central Washington Chapter
1977 South Sound Chapter
1977 Palouse Chapter (inactive)
1978 Koma Kulshan Chapter
1982 Northeast Washington Chapter
1983 Olympic Peninsula Chapter
1984 Suksdorfia Chapter
1984 Okanogan Chapter
1991 Salal Chapter
1995 Wenatchee Valley Chapter
1997 Columbia Basin Chapter
1997 San Juan Islands Chapter