Current and Recent Projects

Our work focuses on the flora of the Intermountain West, with a particular focus on two ecoregions in Utah - the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. The majority of our projects occur within Utah, although we do occasionally venture into neighboring states.

Utah Plant Conservation Project

Project: Monitoring Pollinator Activity with Rana
Duration: Ongoing
Summary: We are using a new automated motion-capture technology (Rana) to track and record pollinator activity on selected native plant species. This project will allow us to determine the diversity and frequency of insect visits on certain types of flowers, and help answer important questions about pollinator services and "pollinator-friendly" plants in Utah. We set up cameras at the Rio Mesa Center outside of Moab, UT as well as the Natural Area and Children's Garden here at Red Butte Garden, and recorded visits of many different kinds of native bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds. To watch a video of pollinators visiting flowers at Red Butte Garden, click here!

Utah Plant Conservation Project

Project: Seeds of Success (SOS)
Partners: BLM and Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program (CPNPP)
Duration: Ongoing
Summary: Each year we survey an ecological region for abundant, native plants from which seed can be collected. In 2015, we completed nearly 30 collections totaling 1.2 million seeds from 14 native Great Basin plant species. Seeds are stored at the Bend Seed Extractory for future use in habitat restoration and rehabilitation. Herbarium specimens are also collected, which are divvied up between Red Butte Garden, the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, and the Smithsonian Institute. Click here for photo highlights from past SOS Collection years!

Utah Plant Conservation Project

Project: Blackrock Gypsum Vegetation Surveys and Rehabilitation Analysis
Partners: BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Blackrock Gypsum
Duration: Completed in 2015.
Summary: We surveyed habitat surrounding the Endangered Gierisch's globemallow (Sphaeralcea gierischii) population in Arizona to piece together the rehabilitation history of post-gypsum mining landforms. We compared vegetation structure and composition between rehab and adjacent undisturbed control sites to examine the effects of past practices, seed mixes and the gypsum-rich substrate on the success of restoration in this area.

Utah Plant Conservation Project

Project: Rare and endangered seed collection for ex-situ conservation, a.k.a. seed banking.
Partner: BLM and Center for Plant Conservation (CPC)
Duration: Ongoing
Summary: Seed banking is a long-term method for conserving the diversity of plant species. Seeds of rare, threatened and endangered plants are collected and stored with low moisture content at low temperatures, thereby extending their lifespan. These collections preserve genetic material away from the threat of habitat destruction. We store a portion of seed in our on-site seed bank; another portion is sent to the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, CO.

Germination and Propagation Trials

Project: Germination and Propagation Trials
Partner: BLM and Center for Plant Conservation (CPC)
Duration: Ongoing
Summary: At the garden, we are currently testing seeds from our seed bank in order to develop the best protocols for germinating rare plant species. Once seeds have germinated, we maintain them in our greenhouses and track their growth each month in order to pinpoint the best methods for propagation. Many of the species we work with require very specific conditions for growth, and by sustaining these species in our greenhouses, we can determine the feasibility of growing seedlings for future outplanting and restoration studies. Learn more about our current trials here!

Utah Plant Conservation Project

Project: Sphaeralcea gierischii (Gierisch's globemallow) propagation and reintroduction
Plant Status: Listed Endangered
Threats: Gypsum mining and off-road vehicle recreation.
Partner: BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Duration: Completed in 2015.
Summary: We conducted in-situ germination studies at a trial reintroduction site to assess the feasibility of reintroducing this species to rehabilitated mining substrates from seed. We monitored seedling establishment and tracked seedling survivorship from 2013-2015 on study sites in Arizona. We also collected seed for long-term ex-situ conservation and developed greenhouse propagation protocols. This species was listed as endangered in 2013, a decision that was informed by our data.

Utah Plant Conservation Project

Project: Penstemon grahamii (Graham’s beardtongue) and Penstemon scariosus var. albifluvis (White River beardtongue) long-term demographic and population monitoring
Threats: Oil and gas exploration, tar sand and oil shale mining, off-road vehicle use, and grazing. All threats are exacerbated by small population sizes and limited distribution.
Partner: BLM
Duration: Initiated in 2004, completed in 2015.
Summary: Over the ten consecutive years of this monitoring project, we have collected demographic and population trend data from these species to inform management decisions. The project has grown to include propagation studies, ex-situ care of living specimens, and seed collection for ex-situ conservation.


Closed Thanksgiving Day and Dec 24-Jan 1

*On days when outdoor concerts are scheduled, garden hours are 9AM-5PM

Only Service Animals are allowed in the garden


Members: Free
Adults (ages 18-64): $12
Seniors (ages 65+): $10
Military w/ID: $10
Children (ages 3-17): $7
Children (under 3): Free
U of U Faculty/Staff: $10
U of U Students: Free with valid ID

Groups (12 or more) $1 off ea. person

Enjoy half-price admission December, January, and February


300 Wakara Way
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
How to Get Here