RIWPS Strategic Plan 2017-2021

At the January General Meeting, January 21, 2017. President Dick Fisher presented the details of the newly adopted Strategic Plan.  This plan calls for an ever increasing focus on offering Rhode Island native plants at our plant sales, building on our educational offerings, assessing growth opportunities for Seed Starters, focusing conservation activities on education and sharing that information, as well as improvements in board communication and organization.   Review the Strategic Plan 2017-2021

Invite: Workshop with Doug Tallamy and Rick Darke


On Saturday, June 24th, Sogkonate Garden Club (Little Compton, RI)  invites you to their free workshop, The Living Landscape, by nationally acclaimed authors Doug Tallamy and Rick Darke from 9-3 at Wilbur McMahon School.

Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy, nationally recognized experts, will use lecture and photographs to demonstrate how to create landscapes that are not only beautiful but also support local wildlife and biodiversity. Attendees will see how they blend art, ecology and cultural geography in the creation and conservation of livable landscapes. They will also hear how insects and plant interactions support diverse wildlife communities.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to see your landscape in a different way.

Spaces are limited.  Advance registration is required.

Registration is at sogkonate.org.


Annual Appeal Letter

Our work …

native plant sales

Help. Donated Native Plant Project Needs a New Home

Donated native plants are an important part of the success story behind both our May, Early Bloomer & Spring Ephemeral Plant Sale and our June, Best Native Plant Sale in Rhode Island.  In early Spring, RIWPS members and friends (with our help, should they wish) dig and divide their native plants which we pot and grow for our sales.

For the past 4 years or so, Sandra Thompson and Nancy Weiss-Fried have collected many of these donated plants and potted them in Sandra’s garage, watering and nurturing them in her driveway. An impressive sight!

Sandra is moving and will not have space at her new home for this undertaking. We are seeking someone who might be willing to carry on. We can supply soil and provide a homemade potting table with multiple stations as well as a potting crew.

Might you be interested or have suggestions  for a location where we could continue our potting program?

Please contact Sandra if you have questions, suggestions and of course, if you would like to be part of the donated native plant project. We guarantee that you will become very familiar with many of the wonderful native plants that grow in RI.

And just how many native plants were bought at RIWPS June Plant Sale?


Rhode Island gardeners really get it.  Planting native plants helps restore the natural environment, creating more favorable conditions to maintain and increase the native bird, butterfly and other insect populations that depend on native plant communities. Gardeners showed up in droves early Saturday morning, June 4th with wagons, boxes and a variety of tote bags to do some serious shopping and learn about the benefits of growing native plants.

If you didn’t attend this annual June native plant sale, you missed a super opportunity to pick wild plants from a vast collection of perennials, trees and shrubs native to Rhode Island, New England and Eastern North America prior to colonial settlement.  Many plants at this sale (and at our earlier May sale), such as milkweed, Virginia bluebells, ferns, trumpet vine and foamflower sold out very early. Plants list by category – first by latin name and then by common name

Over 100 RIWPS volunteers shared their love and enthusiasm for our wild flora with a crowd eager to “Grow  Native”.  We especially welcomed those who either volunteered and who donated plants from their garden for the first time.  Our sale continues to grow every year providing additional funds to further our mission of protecting our native plants and their habitat.

Volunteers in our Seed Starters groups have gotten so motivated that they are organizing to propagate natives in their home landscapes to provide for future sales. We have already begun to start cuttings and seeding for upcoming sales.

To all our volunteers and those who purchased plants, thank you for supporting this big event.  Enjoy growing your wild plants.  Pictures from our June Sale.

This is a year round project and if you are feeling the spirit and desire to grow native, you can sign up to help at plantsales@riwps.org.  It’s a great way to learn about our native plants and how to grow them.

 See you next Spring!
From Sandra Thompson and Linda McDaniel, Co Chairs of Best Native Plant Sale in Rhode Island, June 2016

RIWPS Record breaking sales of Spring Ephemerals!

RIWPS sold more than 700 native plants last Saturday, May 14, at URI East Farm spring festival, in South Kingstown. The warm, sunny morning brought out crowds of eager gardeners, who queued up early to find beautifully-grown specimens of Geranium maculatum (wild geranium), Aquilegia canadensis (red columbine), Trillium erectum (red trillium), Sanguinaria canadensis (blood-root), and hearty natives of the coastal plain, including Vaccinium angustifolium (low-bush blueberry) and Rosa virginiana (Virginia rose), which thrive in sunny, dry sandy gardens.

These early bloomers are just a tantalizing preview to RIWPS’ June 4 sale, also at URI East Farm, Route 108, South Kingstown, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, rain or shine.

More than 3,000 shrubs, trees, vines and perennials, all locally grown and suited to Rhode Island gardens – sun, shade, dry or wet – will be for sale. To name a few: Hamamelis virginiana (American witch-hazel), Benthamidia florida (flowering big-bracted dogwood), Amelanchier canadensis (eastern shadbush), many viburnums and azaleas suited to Rhode Island.


These natives species not only enhance the subtle beauty of a landscape, they provide food and habitat for birds and native insects, including pollinating bees and butterflies.

Preview for the Early Native Plant Sale on May 14

ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY, RIWPS Seed Starter Sandra Thompson writes:

It must be spring!  Look what I woke up to this morning.  Blood-root. With more to come, by the look at all those buds. Ever wonder how this lovely early bloomer, (Sanguinaria canadensis) got its common name?  Its dark red, knobby, underground stems, or rhizomes are filled with an orange-red sap that inspired its Latin name, Sanguinaria which means bloody. Native bees and flies may cross-pollinate blood-root flowers, if it’s warm enough for insects to be flying around, but if it’s too cold out, blood-root has an insurance policy: self-pollination.  What a plant! And you can have one of your own, if you come to RIWPS’s Early Native Plant Sale at the URI Spring Festival at East Farm on Saturday, May 14th.

• Blood-root is native to moist woodlands and floodplains from Nova Scotia to Florida and Texas. A member of the poppy family, its flowers last only a few days, but its rounded notched leaves make a beautiful groundcover, and can be combined with native ginger, trillium, columbine and ferns.

• The Eastern woodland herb was used extensively by Native Americans to treat coughs and croup, to heal sores and ulcers. Its bitter compounds made a powerful emetic. The root juice was also used as a red dye and face paint. Blood-root’s common name in the South – coon root – may have been a corruption of the Indian name, puccoon.

• Blood-root is among many woodland wildflowers with fleshy elaisomes attached to the seeds, which are rich in lipids and proteins. Ants carry these seeds back to their nests, where they eat the nutritious elaisomes and toss the seeds on a waste pile that provides the perfect conditions for germination! It’s one of the many examples in which an insect species is fed by a plant, which in turn spreads a bit farther into the woods.

Go Botany – Sanguinaria canadensis

RIWPS 2016 Annual Volunteer Awards

Volunteer of the Year is awarded to Helen Drew for her work at Seed Starters West and the Early Native Plant Sale. The Lifetime Service Award is given to Doug McGrady for his dedication to seeking and identify rare plants and plant communities in RI and sharing his passion and knowledge as a RIWPS walk leader.  Rhode Island’s native plant populations and the RIWPS community are better because of them.  Awardees from past years.

RIWPS Native Plant Exhibit Wins Three Awards

Rhode Island Coastal Habitats – Spring: Emergence and Rebirth earned, First Place Award (Non Profits), First Place Award (People’s Choice) and The Roger and Elizabeth Swain Award for Design and Execution at the RI Spring Garden & Flower Show at the Providence Convention Center, February 18-21.

Congratulations and much appreciation to Kevin Alverson, Judy Ireland, Frances Topping and Barney Webster for their outstanding exhibit. Special thanks to Sue Gordan for her work forcing and nurturing plants and to all those who volunteered their time and talents to bring the design from the planning stage to its final rendition on the exhibit floor, complete with exhibit docents.

Rhode Island Coastal Habitats – Spring: Emergence and Rebirth highlighted the plant diversity occurring at the transition zones between coastal and inland climates, one of Rhode Island mini ecosystems that makes our landscape so unique and beautiful, and one of the habitats most threatened by rising sea levels and other climate changes.

Using our native plants in our public open spaces as well as our private coastal properties is essential to secure a diverse coastal vegetative habitat, to create a buffer zone to protect against coastal erosion and to maintain the foraging and shelter habitats that native plants provide for our wildlife.

Call for Applications: Deadline 2/29/2016

Rhode Island Wild Plant Society Press Release


Deadline February 29, 2016


The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is offering a grant to aid individuals in the study of wild plants and their habitats. To qualify you must be an educator, a member of a Rhode Island botanical or environmental association or a student in a field related to botany or environmental studies.

The grant is for up to $1,000 and includes a one year membership to RIWPS. The project goal must involve environmental activities or research in any area of study related to wild plants and/or their habitats. These activities may involve such things as installation of gardens, invasive removal, or support for extracurricular activities. It can also be used for project materials, to create workshops or courses with a community outreach component. The award is open to Rhode Island residents or non-residents at a Rhode Island educational institution.

For additional information, specific grant requirements, eligibility guidelines and applications, call the RI Wild Plant Society at (401) 789-7497 (voicemail) or email office@riwps.org. You can also download the information from the website, www.riwps.org.


Applications must be received by February 29, 2016

Send to: RIWPS, P.O. Box 888, North Kingstown, RI 02852 ooffice@riwps.org


The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of Rhode Island’s native plants and their habitats.