2024 crop wild relatives symposium

Collaborating to Conserve North America’s Crop Wild Relatives and Wild Utilized Plants

Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado   September 17-19, 2024

North America is rich in wild species related to agricultural and horticultural crops and is home to a diversity of significant wild utilized plants. Crop wild relatives have valuable characteristics that can be used to sustain food production. As such, they are important genetic resources for crop improvement. Additionally, wild utilized plants serve important nutritional and cultural roles, especially to indigenous communities. Most of these plants are poorly conserved and urgent conservation action is required if they are to be available for future use.

A Road Map was published in 2019 for the conservation, use, and public engagement around North American crop wild relatives and wild utilized plants. This meeting brings together botanic gardens, indigenous groups, land managers, research/breeders and genebanks to review progress made and envision future priorities and strategies that capitalize on wide-ranging strengths to conserve crop wild relatives and wild utilized plants.

This meeting is made possible through a partnership between Botanic Gardens Conservation International-US and the United States Botanic Garden.


The registration deadline is August 30, 2024. The symposium will be limited to 115 attendees, so be sure to register early!


Gary Nabhan headshot

Keynote Speaker

Gary Nabhan, Author and Ethnobotanist

"Crop Wild Relatives Not Only for Breeding but For Cultivation & For Foraging for their Intrinsic Value" 


Gary Nabhan is an "extinguished professor" now focused on building an alliance to bioculturally recover sacred and ceremonial plants -some of them crop wild relatives--that have been endangered or culturally appropriated in recent years. He is a recipient of a McArthur "genius" award, two Vavilov Medals for biodiversity conservation, a James Beard award (nomination-TO BE UPDATED June 8), and other honors from the Crop Science Society of America, Society for Ethnobiology, and Society for Ethnobotany,, and Society for Conservation Biology. He is author or coauthor of over 30 books and 120 peer-reviewed articles in the likes of Nature, PNAS, Conservation Biology, Conservation Genetics, Horticulture and the Ecology of Food and Nutrition. He lives in Patagonia Arizona where he grows a "torture orchard" of 100 tree croops and 50 agave species, and in coastal Sonora, where he assists Indigenous fishing communities in restoring mangroves and seagrasses as a buffer against sea level rising.

2024 Crop Wild Relative Symposium