Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Rare Plants

Are lady's-slippers rare?

Maine is home to four species of lady's-slippers. These include the pink lady's-slipper, ram's head lady's-slipper, yellow lady's-slipper, and showy lady's-slipper. Of the four species, only the ram's head lady's-slipper and the showy lady's-slipper are rare in Maine. The ram's head lady's-slipper is also globally rare. Pink lady's-slipper and yellow lady's-slipper are not considered rare in Maine. For more information about all lady's-slippers in Maine, please see our lady's-slippers in Maine information page.

How do I find out if there are rare plants on my property?

MNAP can search its databases for rare and exemplary botanical features documented from your property. To submit a request, you must send a map of your property and a brief cover letter requesting a review. MNAP will provide you with the results of the search. This review will serve adequately for most development applications and forest management planning activities. Some property reviews may be subject to fee. The best way to determine if rare plants do or do not occur on your property is to hire a qualified field botanist to conduct a survey. Please refer to Maine's Rare Plant List and Rare Plant Fact Sheets or contact us.

What happens if a rare plant is found on my property?

If a rare plant on your property is identified by MNAP (with your permission) or reported by others to MNAP, we will send you information about the plant and a description of its location and habitat on your property. We will also add the location to our database, which helps us evaluate the distribution and rarity of plants throughout Maine. Many rare plant species are included on the state's list of Endangered and Threatened Plants. This list, which is updated periodically, is for informational purposes only and carries no regulatory authority. However, if you apply for certain state permits from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) (e.g., filling a wetland) the rare plant population may be considered by DEP in evaluating the permit application.

I think I found a rare plant on my property. How do I report it?

If you find a rare plant on your property, please contact MNAP to confirm your findings. It is likely that our botanist will request that you send a specimen or picture of the plant and may ask you for additional information about the number of plants and habitat type in which it is found.

Is it illegal to pick rare plants?

There are no laws prohibiting the collection of any plant species in the State of Maine. Plants in Maine are the private property of the landowner, so private property rights should be respected. In the interest of perpetuating Maine's natural heritage, we strongly advise against the collection of any rare plants.

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Plants in General

Are there any regulations that restrict the collection of common wild plants in Maine?

There are no regulations that restrict the collection of wild plants in Maine in general. However, before collecting wild plants it essential to obtain the permission of the landowner. Certain public lands such as state and national parks prohibit the collection of plants. A permit is required to collect from Maine's public lands. Permits may be obtained from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife or Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

When collecting plants, use common sense so that you don't deplete the population you are collecting from. Pick only common plants where they are abundant. Never collect more than 10% of the plants from a given area. Multiple intensive collections from an area may lead to the decline or loss of the species from the site w hich in turn affects the overall ecosystem. When possible don't collect the whole plant, collect a small enough amount from each individual plant so that the plants will continue to live.

Where can I have this mystery plant identified?

Staff at the MNAP can help with the identification of native, naturalized, and invasive plant species. We can sometimes identify plants by photographs emailed to us. Please be sure to include clear (not fuzzy) photos of the entire plant in its habitat, and close up shots of flowers/fruit, leaves, and stems. You can also mail or drop off a specimen to us. An accurate identification often depends on having the right parts of the plant. When possible include leaves, stems, and flowers/fruit in your specimen. Mailed specimens should be as fresh as possible or flattened and dried. Mailed specimens of aquatic plants should be put into a ziplock bag with a moist paper towel and sent as soon as possible. If you send us a specimen, be sure to include contact information so that we can provide you with a determination. Contact MNAP.

For aid with the identification of horticultural specimens, contact a garden supplier or State Horticulturist Gary Fish ( within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

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Invasive Plants

What is the state doing to get rid of purple loosestrife?

Purple loosestrife has been slowly spreading across Maine's landscape for decades. The earliest collection of purple loosestrife in Maine is from 1902 in the town of Skowhegan. Many other collections were made from a wide variety of locations prior to 1950. At present, the species is known from all 16 of Maine's counties and is nearly ubiquitous in the incorporated towns. As anyone who has ever tried to rid their yard of a weed knows, it can be a challenge to get rid of some plants. When we look at the entire state and how widely purple loosestrife is distributed, we recognize that there is no strategy or technology that can free us from this species. Experiments with small loosestrife eating beetles have been successful at limiting the growth and spread of the species, but not at eliminating it. As the use of beetles increases, perhaps the impacts of purple loosestrife to our natural systems will decrease.

If you discover a new infestation of purple loosestrife and it has not yet become unmanageable (a few plants) then you can attempt to eradicate it by simply pulling up the plants. If you do pull up the plants, be sure to get as much of the root mass as possible to prevent reestablishment. It is more effective to remove plants in early summer before they have set seed as the seeds will likely fall onto the spot where the plant was pulled from and grow in the disturbed soil or elsewhere. Plants should be disposed of in a way that prevents opportunity for reestablishment such as municipal garbage, burning, or leaving to dry on a hard surface such as concrete.

For more information about invasive plants, see our Invasive Plants page.

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General Questions

Do you have any job openings?

See our Job Opportunities page.

What is the Critical Areas Program (CAP)?

The Critical Areas Program no longer exists. In the 1970's and 1980's, the CAP was a land registration program whereby landowners could voluntarily register their property with the State of Maine. Most of the parcels that were registered contained interesting botanical, geologic, or zoological features. Some of the information collected during the registration process (rare plant information, old growth forests, etc.) is currently maintained in the MNAP databases. However, much of the information is not maintained. CAP registry information should be considered out-of-date and used for general informational purposes only.

How do I arrange for MNAP to do a field survey of my property?

Contact us and describe your interest, need, and time frame. MNAP will decide if a field survey is necessary based on the likelihood of identifying a rare plant population or exemplary natural community. We typically consider the size, type, and condition of habitat in evaluating such decisions, with larger, intact, uncommon habitat types taking precedence. Field surveys are most effective during the growing season, with June through August optimal. Depending on the project, a fee may be charged for a field visit and subsequent data analysis.

Can you come speak to my group (botanists, foresters, land trusts, schools, etc.)?

MNAP has a small, busy staff, and we are not able to fulfill all requests for presentations and outreach events. We evaluate each request with regard to the subject matter, time required for preparation, current staff capacity, and relevance to our overall mission. Requests to MNAP staff should be made at least two months in advance. Please see our Outreach page or contact us.

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Data and Information Requests

I am submitting an application to the Department of Environmental Protection for a development project and I need a letter from your office stating whether or not there are any rare or exemplary botanical features located in the project area. What do I need to do to get a letter from your office?

To process information requests, MNAP requires a brief cover letter that describes the nature of the project and a map of the project area. MNAP will search its databases and provide you with a letter stating the results of the search and additional information about botanical features known from the area. MNAP charges $75/hour for most project reviews. Most reviews take 2 hours. Please see our Site Review page or contact us.

Why does MNAP charge for some of its services?

MNAP is a grant-funded program within the State of Maine's Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Because MNAP does not receive its core funding from the State and must rely on grant awards to operate, it must recoup the costs of some services that are not covered by grant awards. Periodically, grant funding does allow MNAP to provide certain services at a reduced cost. For more information, please read about our fee structure, or contact us.

There is a proposed development project in my town. What information is available about the area?

There is a wealth of information about wildlife habitat for many Maine towns. Maps and information provided by the Beginning with Habitat project are available at many town halls or can be purchased from the Beginning with Habitat website. In addition, MNAP can provide you with a list of the rare plant species and natural communities documented from your town.

Can I request new or existing Beginning with Habitat Maps and GIS Data?

For more information visit our Beginning with Habitat page or the Beginning with Habitat website. You can request copies of existing Beginning with Habitat maps and/or GIS data by visiting the Beginning with Habitat website.

Can I have a copy of MNAP data for my area of interest?

For certain parts of the State, MNAP data can be supplied by request. The request will be reviewed by MNAP staff to determine whether there is any sensitive information that requires screening or special comment. In some cases, an digital shape file defining your area of interest may be requested. Data will generally be supplied within 10 working days. Please see our Information Request page or contact us.

Will MNAP data become available online or over the Internet?

In the short term, MNAP data can only be accessed by request. The long term goal for data accessibility is to have most MNAP data available for download over the internet. Discussions and planning for this outcome are already underway. Stay tuned in to our website for developments on this front.

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