Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are pink lady’s-slippers protected?
  • I’d like to grow rare plants on my property. How do I do it?
  • How do I report a rare species discovery to NH Heritage?
  • I'm interested in botany and want to help. What can I do?
  • What is Biodiversity?
  • Why is it important to protect state-rare species?
  • What's rare in my town?
  • Where can I see examples of the elements that NH Heritage tracks?
  • What does river birch look like?
  • When is a good time to conduct field surveys for Heritage elements?


Are pink lady’s-slippers protected?

Pink lady’s-slippers (Cypripedium acaule) are quite common in New Hampshire. Flowers are typically pink, but sometimes are white. They grow in dry, acidic forests, often beneath a canopy of white pines. In contrast, four other lady’s-slippers species in New Hampshire are rare and tend to grow in wet areas where the soil is enriched with calcium. These four species – ram’s head lady’s-slipper (C. arietinum), small yellow lady’s-slipper (C. parviflorum), large yellow lady’s-slipper (C. pubescens), and showy lady’s-slipper (C. reginae) – are all listed as endangered or threatened.

Pink lady’s-slippers are listed as "special concern" under the Native Plant Protection Act. This listing does not give the plant any legal protection, but it does give a landowner recourse if someone digs up plants without the landowner’s permission.

Transplanting pink-lady's slippers

Cypripedium acaule (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)


I’d like to grow rare plants on my property. How do I do it?

NH Heritage usually discourages landowners from growing rare plant species, especially using seeds or plants from outside New Hampshire. Plants from other regions, such as Wisconsin or Georgia, experience different environmental conditions than those in New Hampshire. Over time, these different conditions can lead to the evolution of new species. In the short term, imported rare plants may be less successful in New Hampshire, and could even spread new genes to native populations that make the native plants less successful.

Plants from native stock of common species are available from a variety of sources, such as the State Nursery. NH Heritage works with the New England Wild Flower Society on the propagation of several critically imperiled plant species.

How do I report a rare species discovery to NH Heritage?
To report a rare plant discovery, fill out a Rare Species Occurrence Record form and be sure to attach a map showing the location. We require the use of this form to ensure that our records are complete and accurate.

Voucher specimens of rare plants are also required. Photographs are acceptable if they show diagnostic features. Pressed specimens are also accepted. If a population has fewer than 20 individuals, collect diagnostic plant parts rather than an entire plant. Do not collect any specimens if doing so would have a major impact on the population. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail or call us at 603-271-2214.

To report a rare animal discovery, contact the Nongame & Endangered Wildlife Program at 603-271-2462. Also, fill out a Rare Species Occurrence Record form and be sure to attach a map showing the location. New rare animal occurrences are entered into the NH Heritage database only after they have been reviewed and approved by the Nongame Program.

I'm interested in botany and want to help. What can I do?
The New England Wild Flower Society coordinates the Plant Conservation Volunteer Program. Through participation in this program, interested volunteers can make significant contributions to plant conservation efforts in New England, while at the same time learning new plants, meeting people with like interests, and just having a good time exploring the diverse landscape of New England. For more information and an application form, click on the above link to the Plant Conservation Volunteer Program or call the New England Wild Flower Society at 508-877-7630.

What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity is when you have many different kinds of living organisms in one area. What would be the opposite of biodiversity? One example would be the absence of life: the moon has no biodiversity (that we know of!). Another would be just a single type of life: a petri dish in a sterile laboratory, with just one type of bacteria growing in it. Very different from - and frankly a lot more boring than - a place where you can find many, many different living creatures. NH Heritage is ultimately concerned with the protection of native biodiversity in New Hampshire.

Why is it important to protect state-rare species?

Short answer: It's a lot easier to enjoy a unique flower in your backyard than one that's in another state. And the rare species that we want to protect are those that do belong in NH: they may be rare, but most of them have been here for a long time. If we lose them we lose part of our heritage. And we may lose other things we don't even know of, from other species (think "web of life" and interconnections) to unique genetic solutions to environmental challenges.

The Longer Answer

What's rare in my town?
NH Heritage produces a list of rare species and exemplary natural communities reported in the last 20 years in each town in New Hampshire. The list includes each species’ and natural community’s name, its state and federal listing status, the number of known locations in a given town, and the number of known locations throughout New Hampshire. The town list can be found here: Rare Plants, Rare Animals, and Exemplary Natural Communities in New Hampshire Towns 

Where can I see examples of the elements that NH Heritage tracks?

The Visiting New Hampshire's Biodiversity program offers interpretive trail guides, site profiles, and colorful pictures of a variety of features tracked in the NH Natural Heritage database.  For regional groupings, see the site list sorted the sorted by the NH Division of Travel & Tourism's Travel Regions. (see also NH Division of Travel & Tourism)

What does river birch look like?

River birch (Betula nigra) is a state-threatened tree that is tracked by the NH Natural Heritage Bureau. (see also our separate fact sheet). River birch is often used in landscaping. Since landscaped trees are often imported from other states, there is potential for “inappropriate” gene flow between natural and planted populations which could cause outbreeding depression and loss of genetic purity of natural populations. Planting them can also lead to confusion when trying to determine natural vs. planted populations.

When is a good time to conduct field surveys for Heritage elements?
The summer growing season is required to identify most herbaceous plant species, and therefore to properly classify most natural communities. Limited field work can be conducted in the winter, however. Cores can be taken to determine the age of trees, and several natural communities are defined primarly by their physiography (such as felsenmeer, montane landslide, salt pannes and pools, etc.). NH Heritage's Seasonal Pages Archive contains features and information specific to various times of the year.


NH Natural Heritage Bureau


botanizing / fern (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)
botanizing in the Connecticut River valley in New Hampshire (photo by Ben Kimball)