New Jersey tracks the location and status of rare species and ecological communities in the Biotics Database.
New Jersey’s Rare Plants
The Heritage Program tracks the status of over 800 plant species, 356 of which are listed as Endangered in the state.
Lists of rare plant species and ecological communities by county can be viewed and downloaded from this page. These lists are based on information in the Biotics Database, and are revised occasionally. The information on the rarity and status of the plant species and ecological communities is current as of the time of printing. Refer to the list of Endangered Plant Species and Plant Species of Concern for the most recent information about the rare plant species and the statewide status of those species in New Jersey. The Explanation of Codes document provides detailed information about the status codes used in these lists.
Pine Barren Gentian (Gentiana autumnalis)
You can contribute information to the Natural Heritage Program and expand our knowledge of New Jersey’s biodiversity. If you’re aware of the location of an Endangered Plant Species or Plant Species of Concern, consider completing and sending in a Rare Plant Species Reporting Form.
Each form is reviewed by a biologist, and may then be added to the Biotics Database. Your observations are important; forms submitted by citizen scientists have resulted in the rediscovery of species that had been believed to be lost from the state.
The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program is part of NatureServe, the international network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers, and a source of comprehensive information about plants, animals, and ecosystems. Visit NatureServe Explorer to view information about the status and distribution of species throughout the Americas.
In 1989, the Endangered Plant Species List Act was enacted (Endangered Plant Species List Act, N.J.S.A. 13:1B-15.151 et seq.). The New Jersey Legislature declared that “plant species have medicinal, genetic, ecological, educational, and aesthetic value to the citizens of New Jersey" and directed the Division of Parks and Forestry to create the State’s first official list of plant species endangered in New Jersey. Endangered plants were defined in the act as native species whose survival in the state or nation is in jeopardy, including plant species listed, proposed or under review by the federal government as endangered or threatened in the United States, any additional species known or believed to be rare throughout its worldwide range, and any species having five or fewer extant populations within the state.
In 1991 the Endangered Plant Species List was first adopted through rulemaking. Since then, the list has been periodically updated based on information in the Department’s Natural Heritage Biotics Database. The list of State Endangered Plant Species and Plant Species of Concern contains the native New Jersey plant species currently listed as endangered in the state, along with information about the other plants tracked by the Natural Heritage Program.
A copy of the Endangered Plant Species Program rules can be viewed and downloaded here.
The Department of Environmental Protection, through its Natural Heritage Biotics Database, is responsible for monitoring the status of many additional plant species that are not included on the official Endangered Plant Species List. By combining the lists of Endangered Plant Species and Plant Species of Concern, this current list includes all plant species that are considered to be of conservation concern in New Jersey. Species are listed alphabetically by scientific name, followed by a common name and codes indicating its global and state rank, federal, state, or other status. Definitions of all the codes can be found in a separate document.
Plant species included on this list differ in their degree of rarity and the immediacy of threats to existing populations. A number of the species on this list are rare throughout their range (a few of these species are known only from New Jersey). The conservation of these globally rare species is a priority, and unless protected, it is possible that some of these endangered plants may become extinct. The majority of the remaining species on this list are more frequent elsewhere in their range, but rare in New Jersey. This is largely because New Jersey is at the geographical limit of their range or because suitable habitat is either rare or has been destroyed or greatly altered through human actions. The conservation of these species is therefore of high state significance.
This listing of State Endangered Plant Species and Plant Species of Concern is dynamic: through field work by staff of the Natural Heritage Program and others, species new to the state are occasionally discovered, historically ranked species are rediscovered, and species are determined to be rarer or more frequent than previously documented. Existing populations may be reduced in size by disease, predation, or unknown causes. Species are lost because their critical habitats are destroyed or irreversibly altered by direct or indirect human actions, such as changes in hydrology, fire suppression, and competition with aggressive, nonnative invasive plant species. Consequently, the list will continue to change as new data are obtained through ongoing research and field inventories.
The scientific names of the rare plant species on the list of State Endangered Plant Species and Plant Species of Concern are constantly being revised. As a result, the nomenclature used on an older plant list or Natural Heritage database report may not be the same as that on the most recently posted list.