Know, grow, protect and enjoy South Africa's indigenous plants

Our Conservation Work

BotSoc champions biodiversity conservation in South Africa to protect our indigenous plant diversity and ecosystems, and we have been doing this since we were established in 1913. 

Ex-situ plant collections

While the first step to plant conservation is always to protect the species in their natural habitat, sometimes this just isn’t possible. During times like this, ex-situ (or off-site) seed collections can help prevent otherwise likely extinctions.

Future ecological restoration work

BotSoc works with partners to help collect seeds for these collections, where they are stored under the right conditions to enable them to survive for a long time. These can then be used during propagation trials, and to build living collections that would be needed for future ecological restoration work.

Our BotSoc mentoring support

For instance, our BotSoc botanist Isabel Johnson (who works on BotSoc’s Stewardship Programme) also works with the BotSoc Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) Inland Branch and the KZN National Botanical Garden to collect seeds for ex-situ plant collections. This takes place via a mentoring programme that the branch runs for the national botanical garden staff.

Here experienced local botanists from the branch, including Isabel, organise collaborative collecting trips with the staff to find propagation material of threatened plants for this garden’s ex-situ plant collections. Excess seed is sent to the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew Millennium Seed Bank for long-term seed storage under specialised freezing conditions.

Between 2021 and 2022, six collecting trips were held, during which the botanists collected propagation material of 13 species in the KZN Midlands. A propagation group has also been started where BotSoc members assist with plant propagation in the KZN NBG collection’s nursery. This group allows for the transfer of vital plant knowledge – allowing younger generations to take over this work when the time comes – thereby ensuring continuity for plant conservation. The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) volunteers, funded in part by the Botanical Society, also collect seeds for the Millennium Seed Bank where appropriate and with the right permission and supervision.

Get involved

If we’re to be successful in protecting our indigenous plant species, we need to get the younger generation more involved in conservation. That’s why BotSoc is focusing on involving young graduates – so that they can learn from our experienced botanists like Isabel and can gain expertise in seed collection and other in-field botanical specialist skills.  Please support BotSoc as we get these young conservationists involved in protecting plants.

Crew Programme 


Succulent plant crisis

Ex-situ plant collections

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Open Monday to Friday 10h00 to 14h00. Closed on weekends and public holidays.

December holidays:  Office will be closed from the 25th December and reopen 1st working day of the new year

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