Berry College students are growing and monitoring a rare and endangered plant species on campus.
Students in the Principles of Microbiology, Botany and Ecology class established two safeguarding sites on campus to grow the Georgia Trillium, an endangered native plant species. The students are collecting data on the rare plant species to study different conditions that could affect its growth. This data includes evaluation of the species of trees surrounding the plant, invasive species, effect of seasons and more.
The Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance donated two clusters of Georgia Trillium for students to plant. According to Catherine (Cathy) Borer, Berry associate professor of biology, the 27,000-acre campus is the perfect place for this plant to thrive.
“This is a pretty spectacular campus with amazing ecosystems, and a great place to think about plant populations,” said Borer. “We’re giving the species a fighting chance!”
Berry joined the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance during summer of 2019. The Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance is a network of over 40 Georgia universities, zoos, state and federal agencies, botanical gardens and conservation organizations that work to conserve and protect native, rare and endangered plants. This is the first Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance project on Berry’s campus.
The Georgia Trillium is a perennial herb native to Georgia that produces small, white three-petaled flowers and blooms in the spring. It can take more than five years for the first flowering stalk to grow, but if protected, could live for hundreds of years. Its habitat is being threatened by a range of human activities like logging and clearing forests for land development.
“My hope is that in future years, my students will be able to help continue this project and collect long-term data on the plants and their ecology,” said Borer.