A Maine Rare Plant Garden at Murray Hall features more than 30 rare and endangered species selected and cultivated by members of the University of Maine Biology and Horticulture Clubs.

Some plants featured in the garden, established on Maine Day 2022 with funding from Alton ’38 and the Adelaide Hamm Campus Activity Fund, include Lupinus perennis, Trillium grandiflorum, and Orono sedge. Most plants were selected from the National Plant Trust in Massachusetts, where they were propagated by nurseries or professional botanists.

The inspiration for the garden came from Ann Dieffenbacher-Krall, associate director of the School of Biology and Ecology, who thought the flowerbeds in Murray Hall’s courtyard could be used for a pollinator garden. She wanted to expose students and the public to plants that should grow in Maine, but are either extinct or endangered.

“One of the factories in the mixture was Lupinus perennis, which is the native lupine and is only found in pine barrens,” says Dieffenbacher-Krall. “When I volunteered for the Natural Spaces program, I visited sites where rare plants were found. I drove all over Moosehead in the summer and never found Lupinus perennisso I thought ‘why don’t we plant some rare plants that belong here that people never see in the wild?’

Club members say they hope the garden will raise awareness of plant conservation and spark increased interest in understanding the forces that endanger plants, including habitat destruction or degradation, overexploitation and the climate change.

“Participating in the creation of the Rare Plant Garden on Maine Day was a great experience!” says Aldous Hofmann, a senior majoring in biology. “After the COVID lockdowns, a sense of community connection is something that I think has been severely hampered. While helping to plant the rare plant garden as a senior, I was able to meet some of the underclassmen in my department and learn about their experiences over the past few years. To have such interesting species and the sense of community that was retained as a talking point when showing people around campus is very rewarding.

Visit Maine’s Rare Plant Garden Web page to learn more about each species found there. The garden is an ongoing project; to volunteer, contact Dieffenbacher-Krall, annd@maine.edu.

Contact person: Margaret Nagle, nague@maine.edu