Recent consideration of two taxa, a fern (Botrychium minganense Vict.) and a birch (Betula × sandbergii Britton), for addition to the list of protected plants by the Vermont Scientific Advisory Group on Flora revealed the need for an assessment of hybrids in the context of the listing of rare taxa for protection. Though both are hybrids in that they are the product of secondary contact between divergent lineages, the two lie at opposite ends of the hybrid continuum. A consideration of the known array of hybrid biologies in the context of the conservation literature leads to the argument that the fern should be listed, but not the birch. Botrychium minganense is reproductively competent, fully isolated from its progenitors, and evidences a genetic heritage unique relative to them. However, Betula × sandbergii does not have the integrity or genetic uniqueness typical of the rare hybrid lineages that have been listed for protection, either at the state or national level. It lacks a unique gene pool vulnerable to extinction. The two candidates for listing in Vermont present contrasting biologies that together inform a substantive understanding of the issues relating to the conservation biology of plant hybrids.
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