In January 1991, the Boston-based Center for Plant Conservation will be packing up and moving about 1,200 miles west - to a new home on the grounds of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Currently located at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, a part of Boston, the six-year-old center's mission is to save the more than 3,000 endangered species of United States plants from extinction. It serves as the headquarters of a network of 20 botanical gardens around the country that collect and house rare plants indigenous to their regions. Plants are maintained as stored seed, rooted cuttings, or growing plants and make up the National Collection of Endangered Plants.

Relocation of the center to St. Louis will create the nation's largest organization for plant conservation and research. The center and the Garden will be able to combine efforts and focus on reintroducing endangered plants back into their natural habitats.

``For the first time it may be within our grasp to prevent any further extinction of native flora within the United States,'' says Peter Raven, director of the Garden.

The center accepted the Garden's invitation to move to St. Louis because it is one of the most active botanical gardens in the world in conservation and research.

``It's the best thing we could do for endangered plant conservation,'' says Jenna Klein, executive assistant and publicity coordinator at the center.

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