In nature, all things are connected. A plant, even one that is small or unglamorous, may provide vital food or shelter to other creatures. Its roots may stabilize the shifting earth below. Its chemistry may hold cures for human diseases.
If the population of a particular type of plant gets too small, it may no longer be able to fill these important roles. In addition, the more diverse the gene pool of a plant population the greater the chances that there will be some individuals who are equipped to survive disease, catastrophe, or environmental changes. Genetic diversity is, in effect, a kind of insurance against extinction. When a plant population declines this vital genetic diversity shrinks too.
Bay Area national parks are home to a number of rare, threatened, and endangered plants—over 50 at Point Reyes National Seashore, 38 at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and 10 at Pinnacles National Park. Park managers are working to find, map, understand, and protect these species.