The Georgia Native Plant Society is dedicated to the conservation of Georgia’s native plants and their habitats. This is carried out through countless hours and immense energy and dedication of GNPS volunteers. Our conservation projects include the work of more than 400 plant rescuers every year, propagators of native plants at Stone Mountain and crew members who are actively restoring twelve sites across Georgia. In addition, The Conservation Policy Committee (CPC) was established in 2006 and is responsible for reviewing Georgia native plant conservation policy issues relating to the mission statement and sharing those issues with our membership.

GNPS Statement on Cultivars of Native Plants

The GNPS Board of Directors has created the following statement on using cultivars of native plants. It includes some background information to set the context for it. Following the statement are some resource links to provide some of the research regarding cultivars.

What is a cultivar?

A cultivar (short for cultivated variety) is a selection of a plant that has been patented and propagated through cultivation, most often through cuttings, division, or tissue culture and sometimes selected seeds usually through controlled pollination of the parent plant.  In order to preserve the traits for which they were selected, most cultivars are clones of the original plant. For native plants, some people refer to these as ‘nativars’ but they are the same concept as the broader term ‘cultivar.’ Cultivars can be hybrids or they can be selections of the species found in a population of plants. For comparison, the term ‘straight species’ refers to the plant as originally found in the wild.

Why are they created?

Nurseries and breeders select plants for cultivars because of a desirable trait such as: a more compact size; a particular flower color; more blooms per plant; double blooms; larger blooms; disease resistance; unusual leaf color; larger fruit; etc. The selected plant might have been deliberately bred in a nursery or selected from a wild population.

How do you recognize that a plant is a cultivar?

Proper labeling on the plant helps you recognize a cultivar. Straight species plants have the scientific name such as Phlox paniculata while cultivars have a name in single quotes that follow: Phlox paniculata ‘David’; a hybrid cultivar should include an ‘x’ in the name to denote that two species were crossed: Phlox x ‘Wanda.’ Once you identify that a plant is a cultivar, search engines (such as Google and Bing) can help you research the plant to understand why it was selected and/or the species used to create it (if it is a hybrid). Further use of the word ‘cultivar’ here applies equally to hybrid and non-hybrid cultivars of native plants.

Are they appropriate for use?

Cultivars can have a place in designed landscapes/gardens when selected carefully and used in conjunction with straight species plants. For example, cultivars selected for compact form allow smaller gardens to use plants that might have been too large for the space. When choosing to use a cultivar, it is important to understand the traits of the plant and how those match the goal of the garden. For example, plants bred for double blooms are less productive for pollinators and would not be a good choice for a pollinator garden.

Cultivars should not be used in Georgia restoration projects/areas. Straight species, preferably sourced from regional Georgia populations, should be used.

What are some of the concerns with using them?

The concerns are two-fold: loss of genetic diversity and reduced ecosystem services that plants normally provide. Since cultivars are clones, using them exclusively reduces the genetic diversity of the species, diminishing the biological heritage of the species and opening the potential for biological decline of it.

To fully appreciate how a cultivar can reduce a plant’s benefit to the ecosystem requires a bit of research about the cultivar. Scientific research by Doug Tallamy and Annie White have helped us understand two areas of alteration that affect a plant’s ability to provide ecosystem services to native insects:  1) forms that alter the leaf color (particularly dark colors are less attractive to insect herbivores like caterpillars); and 2) forms with double blooms provide less nectar and pollen to pollinators while the research on flower color form continues.

We recognize that while we have better information than before on how insects interact with native cultivars, the research on them will continue and will likely improve our understanding even further in the future.

Our statement about using them:

The Georgia Native Plant Society recognizes that balanced use of some native cultivars in designed landscapes can provide specific functionality (e.g., compact size) and landscape beauty to showcase native plants and still support wildlife. We do not recommend that cultivars be used in Georgia restoration projects. Restoration projects should only use straight species plants that are as locally sourced as possible, preferably from seeds or plants in the same ecoregion.

When used in designed landscapes, cultivars require some additional considerations. We recommend that straight species of plants also be included in designs when cultivars are used. For example, when using butterfly milkweed Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow,’ one should also include the straight species Asclepias tuberosa. If observation in the garden later finds that insects are less attracted to the cultivar, consider removing it in the future and replacing it with straight species. We recommend a healthy balance of straight species and cultivars when cultivars are chosen in the design.

We encourage people to ask for straight species plants in nurseries to encourage more nurseries to grow or stock more genetically diverse plants. When you purchase these plants from nurseries, particularly small nurseries that grow plants from local seed, you encourage the propagation of them and the preservation of biodiversity.


Baisden, Emily C., Tally, Douglas W., Narango, Desiree L., Boyle, Eileen. 2018. “Do Cultivars of Native Plants Support Insect Herbivores?” American Society for Horticultural Science

Marinelli, Janet. 2016. “Native, or Not So Much”, National Wildlife Federation

Rodomsky-Bish, Becca. 2018. “Nativars (Native Cultivars): What We Know & Recommend”, Habitat Network/ The Nature Conservancy/The Cornell Lab

White, Annie. 2016. “Nursery to Nature: Evaluating Native Herbaceous Flowering Plants Versus Native Cultivars for Pollinator Habitat Restoration” University of Vermont

White, Annie, 2020. ”How Native Plant Cultivars Affect Pollinators”, Metro Hort Group


This statement can be found on the GNPS Education menu, under the GNPS Policy tab. Please use the link to that statement when referencing it. Direct link:


2021 Legislative Update from the Georgia Conservancy

Legislative updates from the Georgia Conservancy are very informative. If you’d like to receive them directly: Please click here (  to sign up for their weekly legislative updates, emailed every week of the session.

Week 5 Under the Gold Dome
Week 5 of the Georgia General Assembly

The Georgia Conservancy’s Advocacy team, led by Advocacy Director Leah Dixon, is under the Gold Dome every day of the Legislative Session (in spirit whilst working remotely) advocating for the protection of Georgia’s land and water.

There are often many surprises that arrive during the three-month session. Some of these surprises may be welcome pieces of legislation that will be of benefit to Georgia’s natural resources, while others could have dire consequences for our state.

The Georgia Conservancy looks forward to working with House and Senate leadership, and legislators on both sides of the aisle, to forward thoughtful conservation-minded policy with no rollbacks to the environmental protections that are already in place. Last week, the House and Senate approved the FY 21 Supplemental Budget, which will take the State through June 30, 2021. The legislature will continue its work on the FY 2022 Budget.

The following bills have been filed and are of high importance to the Georgia Conservancy. We will keep a dedicated eye on these measures during the 2021 Legislative Session.

Georgia Carbon Sequestration Registry – House Bill 355 (

House Bill 355, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-119) ( , seeks to establish a carbon registry in Georgia that would enable the creation and tracking of carbon credits that can be accrued and then sold by developers to companies looking to offset their carbon footprint. The registry would include carbon credits for the use of sustainable building products, such as CO2 infused concrete, mass timber, carbon-neutral flooring, and all wood products, in statewide construction projects. Housed at the State Forestry Commission, the registry allows for the verification of structures by an independent third-party so as to determine the number of credits issued to the developer. Participation in the registry would be voluntary.

The measure would also establish a Sustainable Building Material Carbon Sequestration Technical Advisory Committee.

House Bill 355 is currently in the House Committee on Natural Resources & the Environment

The Georgia Conservancy supports the passage of House Bill 355

Georgia Environmental Justice Act of 2021 – House Bill 339 (

Sponsored by Rep. Karla Drenner (D-85) ( , House Bill 339 would establish the Environmental Justice Commission.

The commission would have 22 appointed member and provide that “as a prerequisite for obtaining certain permits in neighborhoods consisting of persons of color or from low-income families applicants shall take certain actions to mitigate health hazards”, and that “governmental agencies shall consider the disproportionate effect of environmental hazards on people of color or people from low-income families in implementing certain environmental policies.” The Commission would also “provide that no person in Georgia shall be excluded from any state funded program or activity because of race, color, or national origin; to repeal conflicting laws.”

HB 339 is currently in the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment.

The Georgia Conservancy supports the passage of House Bill 339

Senate Bill 102, sponsored by Sen. John Kennedy (S-18) ( , and House Bill 150, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-115) ( , seek to prohibit governmental entities from prohibiting the connection or reconnection of any public utility based upon the type of fuel or energy source.

These bills have the potential to hinder innovation at the local level to address climate change.

SB 102 is currently in the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities. HB 150 is currently in the House Committee on Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications

The Georgia Conservancy opposes these pieces of legislation, as we support local communities’ authority to explore their own solutions in the expansion and adoption of alternative energy sources.

Retail Distribution of Plastic “Grocery” Bags – Senate Bill 104 (

Senate Bill 104, sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D-35) ( , seeks to prohibit the distribution of plastic “grocery” bags by retail stores to customers. The bill would exempt a number of other plastic bags and containers.

Senate Bill 104 is currently in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources & the Environment

The Georgia Conservancy supports the passage of Senate Bill 280, as well as strengthening education and outreach on reuse, reduce, and recycling.

Ethylene Oxide Emissions & Facility Permitting Requirements – House Bill 3 (

Following legislation passed last year (Senate Bill 426), House Bill 3, sponsored by Rep. Erick Allen (D-40) ( , further establishes permit requirements for facilities that emit ethylene oxide.

Recently, ethylene oxide, commonly used to sterilize medical equipment, has been linked to an uptick in cancer reports in communities near facilities that release the gas beyond state-permitted quantities.

The bill would require facilities that release more than 50 pounds of ethylene oxide annually to allow the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to install monitoring equipment, and allow for the department to continuously monitor emissions and keep daily records for the term of the permit. Reports would be required to be available and updated twice a year on the EPD website. The legislation would also set further off-gassing requirements. Additionally, it would require facilities emitting ethylene oxide to submit an ambient air monitoring plan by January 1, 2022.

House Bill 3 is currently in the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment

The Georgia Conservancy is currently evaluating House Bill 3

Lining Systems for Solid Waste Facilities – House Bill 176 (

House Bill 176, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Buckner (D-137) ( , seeks to require coal combustion residuals (CCR or coal ash) to be disposed of in solid waste facilities that, at a minimum, contain liners and leachate collection systems that meet or exceed the design standards for new municipal solid waste landfills.

HB 176 is currently in the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment

The Georgia Conservancy is currently evaluating and monitoring HB 176.

Flood Risk Reduction as County Tax Purpose – House Bill 244 (

House Bill 244, sponsored by Rep. Don Hogan (R-179) ( , would authorize the use of insurance premium tax revenue for flood risk reduction policies or projects to be implemented in unincorporated areas of counties that are prone to experiencing floods. Such policies or projects may include, but are not limited to, the creation of flood risk management strategies and plans, installation of stormwater management infrastructure and acquisition of high-risk properties. Currently, these funds can also be used for police and fire protection, solid waste collection, and curbs, sidewalks and street lights. Additional funding for flood risk management is especially important in our coastal counties which already experience the detrimental effects of sea level rise.

Learn more ( about the Georgia Conservancy’s work to address sea level rise on our coast.

House Bill 244 is currently assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee

The Georgia Conservancy supports the passage of House Bill 244

The following are measures or issues that we anticipate seeing during the 2021 Legislative Session:

Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program – The Advocacy and Land Conservation programs continue to monitor GOSP activities. The second-year application period closed on October 16th, and projects have been selected and approved by the GOSP Board of Trustees and the DNR Board. This slate of projects will now be considered by the State House and Senate Appropriations sub-committee before beginning the final phase of the application process.

The Budget – As legislators prepare the FY 22 Budget, we will monitor specific items related to natural resources and conservation. As noted above, we will work to restore original funding for GOSP.

Reauthorization of the Georgia Land Conservation Tax Credit – The Georgia Conservation Tax Credit will sunset on December 31, 2021 unless reauthorized by legislators in the upcoming session. We are working with the Association of Georgia Land Trusts to introduce legislation to reauthorize the credit, which offers landowners a financial incentive for protecting their lands. The Georgia Conservation Tax Credit is essential to land conservation in our state. The program has supported permanent conservation of critical lands and habitat and serves as an important statement of the State’s conservation values.

Dedication of the Solid and Hazardous Waste Trust Funds – Voter approval of Amendment 1 on the November 2020 ballot allows the General Assembly to statutorily dedicate existing trust funds whereby fees collected for a specific purpose must be allocated to that purpose rather than be redirected to the General Fund. The Georgia Conservancy will work with partners to advocate for legislation that would dedicate fees collected for the Solid and Hazardous Waste Trust Funds.

Georgia Outdoor Recreation – Georgia’s robust outdoor recreation assets benefit the conservation of our natural resources and bolster the health of communities large and small. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Georgia Conservancy is working with partners in the Georgia Outdoor Recreation Coalition (GORC) and legislators to strengthen and expand our outdoor recreation infrastructure through thoughtful policies and programs. Learn more about GORC at (

GA DNR and GPCA receive US FWS Grant

From our DNR partners:

Georgia DNR and by natural extension, the GPCA, has been awarded the 2020 US Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Challenge Grant. The award is over $779,000 in federal funds for a 5-year project to advance safeguarding recovery goals for 14 federally listed plant species. The funds couldn’t come at a better time for GPCA to:

– Provide critical financial support to foundational GPCA partners

– Bring start-up funds and technical knowledge to new conservation horticulture partners

– Establish a framework for working with US Fish and Wildlife Service at a national level

Thanks so much everyone for your help and trust in creating this project! In 2021 the work begins!

~ Lisa Kruse, Senior Botanist, DNR

Fothergill Award – Bartram Trail Conference

The Bartram Trail Conference (BTC) is now accepting applications for the Fothergill Award. This grant is awarded annually to an advanced graduate student or recent Ph.D. recipient whose research promises to lead to a publication, book, article, dissertation, or other substantive product in studies related to William Bartram. Appropriate areas of scholarship include but are not limited to the natural sciences, history of science, literary studies, journalism, history, biography, archaeology, art, photography, and ethnohistory. Recipients are asked to make an informal report on work to be published in the BTC newsletter, The Traveller, and/or a presentation at the biennial meeting of the BTC (at the discretion of the program committee). Awards range from $500–$1000 depending on the project and available funding. An application is available for download at Review of applications will begin May 1. For information, email Matt Jennings (
Contact Info: 
Dr. Matthew H. Jennings, Professor of History, Middle Georgia State University, Bartram Trail Conference Board

Native Indoor Plants

Q: What are some good Georgia native indoor plants? I want to buy some plants for my dorm room. I hope this is the right place to ask this sort of question. Thank you!

A: (Lori Conway) Yours is a most intriguing question! I am going to inquire of a few folks and get back to you! Possibly even conduct my own research in coming months. I will say that I imagine a sedge (Carex spp.) of most any species would grow indoors as I find them tolerant of both sun/shade and both wet and dry conditions. Are you in your dorm room already? Do you have any direct or indirect (bright) sunlight and, if so, what time of day?

(Ellen Honeycutt) Indeed, a very interesting question! Have you considered doing a terrarium-type approach? Over the years, I’ve made several for my mother in law, using some of our small ferns (like ebony spleenwort), and several kinds of mosses. Put in a few well-aged wood pieces and watch some cool fungi emerge after a while.

This link looks similar to what I’ve done (I did used a closed lid system). The activated charcoal is available at the pet store and is essential.

I do agree that some of our sedges (Carex) might be hardy enough to deal with the indoor environment, as Lori suggested, and many of them are tolerant or lower light levels.
I’m sorry, I forgot the link!


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This