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Native Plants Journal


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Native Plants Journal Author Guidelines

Click here to submit a paper (after reviewing the formatting guidelines below).


The mission of Native Plants Journal is to provide a forum for sharing information on topics related to North American (Canada, Mexico, and US) native plants used for conservation, pollinator habitat, urban landscaping, restoration, reforestation, landscaping, populating highway corridors, and so on. Published papers are potentially useful to practitioners of native plant sciences. Contributions from both scientists (summarizing rigorous research projects) and workers in the field (describing practical processes and germplasm releases) are welcome. Both practical and scientific articles are peer-reviewed but have unique expectations and specifications, as outlined below.


Native Plants Journal Publishes 5 Types of Manuscripts

Refereed Research

Topic Review

Germplasm Release

Propagation Protocol

General Technical


Authors should review the descriptions of article categories and determine the applicable publication category for their work; then follow the appropriate specific instructions for formatting their article.

  1. Refereed Research: publication category for traditionally constructed scientific papers on topics related to native plants. Designed to communicate the results of research projects conducted with strict adherence to scientific principles and high levels of rigor. Refereed research articles must demonstrate narrowly defined objectives, appropriate controls, adequate replication and repetition, properly applied statistical analyses, and appropriately derived conclusions. Click here for detailed instructions about formatting a Refereed Research article.
  2. Topic Review: publication category for critical literature reviews on topics of interest to the native plant scientific community. Designed to provide a forum for summarizing historical research progress and defining the current boundary of knowledge within native plant–related subjects. Click here for detailed instructions about formatting a Topic Review article.
  3. Germplasm Release: publication category for documentation of development and release of native plant germplasm for restoration or landscaping purposes. Descriptions can include named cultivars, selected germplasm, or source-identified natural germplasm. Click here for detailed instructions about formatting a Germplasm Release article.
  4. Propagation Protocol: publication category for documenting and distributing practical information concerning propagation, production, and establishment of native species. Protocols may describe either seed or vegetative methods. Described techniques should be vetted through scientific investigation or successful, repeated, long-term application. Click here for detailed instructions about formatting a Propagation Protocol article.
  5. General Technical: publication category for practical techniques, processes, and apparati associated with native plant production, establishment, and (or) management. Topic matter and presentation in this category of articles are flexible and varied. Click here for detailed instructions about formatting a General Technical article.


General Guidelines for All Types of Manuscripts


For matters of style, we generally follow Scientific Style and Format, The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 8th ed. Council of Science Editors (ISBN 978-0-226116495).

Refrain from the use of special formatting.

Use active voice in your writing style.

Units and Values

For presentation of numerical values, use metric (SI) units followed by US Customary units in parentheses, for example, “length was 125 cm (49.2 in).” Abbreviate all unit designations, except those without numerical value, for example, "We measured parts per million and found 250 ppm nitrogen."

Common abbreviations are: length – mm (in), cm (in), m (ft); area – cm² (in²), m² (ft²), ha (ac); volume – ml (oz), l (qt); time – s, min, h, d, wk, mo, y.

When reporting GPS coordinates, use the decimal degree format (for example, 113.24925 N, 47.94521 W).

Use numerals for any countable amount, including digits less than 10 (for example, 3 replicates, 15 populations).


When referring to a biological species (plants, vertebrate animals, insects, fungi, and so forth), use common names followed by scientific names (including authorities and family names) in parentheses the first time a species is referenced in the abstract and again in the body of the manuscript. Example: whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm. [Pinaceae]). Example without common name: Phacelia rattanii Gray. (Hydrophyllaceae). All subsequent use can be either the common or the scientific name. If scientific names are summarized in a table, they need not be repeated in the body of the manuscript.

Check binomial names of all species included in the manuscript using an authoritative source. The standard source of nomenclature is the USDA PLANTS Database (

If this source is used, include the following citation below the key words on the second page of the manuscript: Nomenclature USDA NRCS (year). Include this full reference in the references section: [USDA NRCS] USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The PLANTS database. URL: (accessed day month year; e.g., 15 Dec 2015). Greensboro (NC): National Plant Data Team. Other nomenclature sources may be used, if justified. The nomenclature source should be listed under the Nomenclature heading and included in the references.

Authors may use common names listed in the USDA PLANTS Database or use local vernacular.

Formatting in Preparation for Review

Construct a header including an abbreviated title and page number that shows on all subsequent pages to the title page.

Double-space and consecutively number all lines of text in the manuscript to facilitate review.

On the first page of the manuscript, include only the title and author names (no contact information).

The second page should contain the title, abstract, key words, and nomenclature source. Abstracts should be brief (preferably 200 to 250 words) and emphasize objectives, results, and practicality to native plant practitioners. Include 3 to 7 key words excluding words contained in the title. Nomenclature includes a reference to the authoritative source for determining current accepted binomial names for plants, animals, or other organisms mentioned within the subject matter of the paper.

It is acceptable to include on the second page, after the Nomenclature citation, a small conversion table (SI to US Customary units) in the stead of providing both values throughout a complex manuscript. Example:

1 km² = 0.4 mi²
1 m = 3.3 ft
(°C x 1.8) + 32 = °F

The outline and structure of the paper will depend on the publication category. Click on the link under the description of each category for specific instructions in preparing each type of manuscript.

Author contact information should be listed on a single page after the references. For each author, list full name, organizational affiliations, address, and e-mail address.

Following the Author Information, paste all tables and figures into the manuscript and include appropriate captions before or after each table or figure. This inclusion will aid in the review process, though the original graphic and photograph files will be uploaded separately during the submission process.

Reference and Citation Format

In the text, please list citations chronologically (rather than alphabetically), but if the same date applies to more than one source, then arrange those entries alphabetically by author (for example, Smith 1986, 1997; Jones and Smith 1992; Smith and Jones 1992; Doe and others 1998).

In the References section, list references alphabetically by author(s); for multiple entries for the same lead author, first list single author sources, then two authors, and finally multiple authors. Do not abbreviate the name of the referenced journal.


Journal article

Alexander MT, Worthen LM, Craddock JH. 2005. Conservation of Castanea dentata germplasm of the southeastern United States. Acta Horticulturae 693:485–490.

Book with primary authors only

Welsh SL, Atwood ND, Goodrich S, Higgins LC. 2003. A Utah flora. 3rd ed., revised. Provo (UT): Brigham Young University. 912 p.

Book with editors and secondary authors

Cotty PJ, Bayman P, Egel DS, Elias KS. Agriculture, aflatoxins, and Aspergillus. In: Powell KA, Renwick A, Peberdy JF, editors. The genus Aspergillus from taxonomy and genetics to industrial applications. New York: Plenum Press. p 1–27.

Article in proceedings

Meyers SE, Carlson SL. 2004. Comparative seed germination biology and seed propagation of eight Intermountain species of Indian paintbrush. In: Hild AL, Shaw NL, Meyer SE, Booth TD, McArthur ED, compilers. Proceedings: seed and soil dynamics in shrubland ecosystems: 2002 Aug 12–16; Laramie, WY. Proceedings RMRS-P31. p 125–129.

Internet source

[USDA NRCS] USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2015. The PLANTS database. URL: (accessed 20 Jan 2016). Greensboro (NC): National Plant Data Team.

Government publication

Stiver SJ, Rinkes ET, Naugle DE, Makela PD, Nance DA, Karl JW, editors. 2015. Sage-grouse habitat assessment framework: a multiscale assessment tool. Denver (CO): USDI Bureau of Land Management and Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Technical Reference 6710-1. 116 p.

Thesis or dissertation

Wang Z. 1990. Effects of cupric carbonate on container-grown seedlings of ponderosa pine during greenhouse production [MSc thesis]. Moscow (ID): University of Idaho. 67 p.

Personal communication

Hoss GA. 2002. Personal communication. Licking (MO): Missouri Department of Conservation, George O White State Forest Nursery. Nursery Superintendent.

Table Formatting

Construct all tables using the table function in Word or other preferred word processing program.

If possible, design tables such that they fit in portrait orientation on a single 8.5 x 11" page.

Preparation of Figures and Photographs

When submitting an article through the NPJ web-based manuscript management system, you will be required to upload each figure file (graph, other graphic element, or photograph) individually. In order to facilitate layout procedures, graphs should be submitted as .eps files, a common output format used by many graphing programs. Alternately, if .eps formatting is not possible, graphs should be submitted in Excel or .pdf format. Photographs should be uploaded in .jpg or .tif format, and photograph files should be at least 1 MB (or 900 x 900 pixels) in size to ensure adequate resolution. Other types of graphics containing color presentation should also be uploaded in .jpg format and should be high resolution.

Inclusion of Photographs for Article Enhancement

Native Plants Journal is printed in a visually enhanced format and includes photographs to illustrate the content of each article. Photographs may include the subject species, elements of research protocols, or people involved in a project (please request permission to print if people are in the photographs). We request that each author select one to five "extra color" photographs to enhance the submitted article. Please include a caption and photo credits for each photograph on the figure upload page during the process of submission.

Pre-submission Tasks

Ensure manuscript quality by obtaining two internal peer reviews and completing appropriate revisions prior to submission. Be sure at least one of the reviewers is proficient in identifying problems with grammar, language, clarity, and concept flow.

Prepare a cover letter indicating the category of manuscript being submitted. If possible, include in the letter the names and contact information for 2 potential reviewers who can be contacted by NPJ associate editors and who have not previously reviewed the manuscript.

Inspect all citations and references to ensure content agreement; that is, if a source is cited within the text, include an entry for it in the references, and if a source appears in the references, include a callout for that source within the text. Please also edit for proper formatting.

Include captions and photo credits for photographs.


Submit your manuscript by accessing the Native Plants Journal submission website ( If you have an active account, log-in and follow the submission instructions. If this is your first time accessing the system, create an account and enter a username and password.

After filling in all requested information on the electronic submission forms, follow the instructions to upload all pertinent files to the submission site. Files may include a cover letter, the manuscript, original figure files, and any additional photographs the authors wish to submit.

Post-submission Tasks

All submitted manuscripts will be peer-reviewed by 2 reviewers to ensure the quality and appropriateness of submitted papers.

Authors may check the status of a paper under review by accessing the NPJ submission website (

Upon completion of reviews, the editor will issue a preliminary decision. If considered acceptable with revision, the manuscript will be returned to the authors for improvement.

Upon resubmission of the revised manuscript, the Editor will indicate a final decision, and if accepted, work with the authors to ensure all paper elements are appropriate for use by the technical editor.

Post-acceptance Tasks

Prior to publication, authors must complete and submit the consent-to-publish form that is linked to the manuscript submission website. The form can also be requested by the authors from the NPJ managing editor at this e-mail address:

Publishing Fees

We accept publishing fees for Gold Open Access, color section fees, and page fees. Page fees are requested when a research grant or other institutional funds are available to underwrite publication costs. Ability to pay is not a condition for acceptance of a manuscript. To pay online, please go to: or email for assistance.


If you need advice or assistance in determining the suitability of a topic or with preparation of a manuscript, please call or e-mail the editor-in-chief of NPJ.

Stephen Love, Editor-in-Chief
Phone: 208.397.4181


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Author Instructions Relative to Specific Article Categories

1. Refereed Research

Structural Outline

Authors (names only)
Key Words
Introduction/Literature Review
Author Information


Specific Instructions

First page: include only the title and author names (no contact information).

Second page: include the Abstract, Key Words, and Nomenclature citation.

Third and subsequent pages: begin the Introduction/Literature Review without a heading.

Authors may present the Results section and the Discussion section separately or combine them into a single Results and Discussion section.

Example of Refereed Research articles for use as models:
Thetford and others. 2015. NPJ 16(2):77.
Jones and others. 2016. NPJ 17(1):5.


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2. Topic Review

Structural Outline

Authors (names only)
Key Words
Body of review
Author Information


Specific Instructions

First page: include only the title and author names (no contact information).

Second page: include the Abstract, Key Words, and Nomenclature citation.

Third and subsequent pages: begin the introductory elements of the text without a heading.

Organize the body of the review with headings and subheadings appropriate to the subject matter.

Photos illustrating elements of the review are encouraged; include captions and photo credits.

Examples of Topic Review articles for use as models:
Dumroese and others. 2015. NPJ 16(3):277.
Muir and others. 2018. NPJ 19(3):225.


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3. Germplasm Release

Structural Outline

Germplasm release papers should conform to USDA NRCS instructions, as provided at The following outline, derived from this source, is suggested but can be adapted as needed.

Authors (names only)
Key Words
Sidebar (see specific instructions below)
Collection Site Information (include map, if possible)
Methods of Breeding and (or) Selection
Anticipated Conservation Use
Anticipated Area of Adaptation (include MLRA name and number)
Availability of Plant Materials
Author Information


Specific Instructions

First page: include only the title and author names (no contact information).

Second page: include the Abstract, Key Words, and Nomenclature citation.

Third page: provide information to construct a sidebar summary in the published article. Included information:

  • Full reference of species (binomial, author, family), for example, Eriogonum umbellatum Torr. (Polygonaceae).
  • Common name of the species (as listed in UDSA Plants Database or from local vernacular), for example, sulphur-flower buckwheat.
  • Four-letter plant symbol, for example, ERUM.
  • Accession number (usually the GRIN ID, if applicable).
  • Collaborators, if applicable.
  • A single sentence announcing the release, for example, “The Aberdeen NRCS Plant Materials Center announces the release of [name] germplasm of Sandberg bluegrass, a selected class of germplasm intended for use in the Great Basin region.”

Fourth and subsequent pages: begin the introductory material without a heading and include the other elements of the release notice.

Note: It is appropriate and encouraged to include tables summarizing actual results from research trials designed for selection of germplasm components or for characterizing germplasm releases. Photographs of plants, plant parts, and (or) trialing processes are important for documentation of a germplasm release.

Examples of Germplasm Release articles for use as models:
Smith and others. 2014. NPJ 15(3):223.
Jones and others. 2014. NPJ 15(1):57.
Shadow and others. 2018. NPJ 19(1):47.


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4. Propagation Protocol

Structural Outline

Authors (names only)
Key Words
Supporting Research
Protocol Description
Author Information


Specific Instructions

Propagation protocols require a flexible format. Descriptions can include parts of protocols or entire processes. They include species propagated from seed, through common vegetative methods, or through micropropagation. Articles will need to be structured according to the content and may diverge somewhat from the outline expected for Refereed Research.

First page: include only the title and author names (no contact information).

Second page: include the Abstract, Key Words, and Nomenclature citation.

Third page and subsequent pages: without including a heading, introduce the subject species; include descriptions of characteristics, origin, and habitat. Provide detail concerning critical propagation barriers. Briefly summarize any research conducted in support of the protocol (include tables and figures, if appropriate). Finally, describe the protocol or portion of the protocol that resulted from the work. The protocol description portion of the paper can be written in the format developed for the RNGR Native Plant Network Propagation Protocols Database (see examples at

List References after the body of the text.

Photos are encouraged; include captions and photo credits.

Examples of Propagation Protocol articles for use as models:
Steele. 2007. NPJ 8(1):58.
Reyes-Vera and others. 2010. NPJ 11(1):52.
McDonough and others. 2018. NPJ 19(3):254.


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5. General Technical

Structural Outline

Authors (names only)
Key Words
Introduction to the Problem
Proposed Solutions
Potential Application
Author Information


Specific Instructions

First page: include only the title and author names (no contact information).

Second page: include the Abstract, Key Words, and Nomenclature citation.

Third and subsequent pages: provide an Introduction to the Problem (begin with this heading), then a description of the ideas and work that led to Proposed Solutions, followed by the authors' view of Potential Applications. Include actual data if research trials were a part of the described project.

A brief list of references should follow the text.

Include photographs (with captions and photo credits), if available, to clearly illustrate the subject matter of the paper.

Example of General Technical articles for use as models:
Braslow and Evans. 2015. NPJ 16(3):249.
Tilley and others. 2018. NPJ 19(2):109.

These articles are not structured according to the above described new outline, but they may provide ideas on presentation.


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Statement on Gold Open Access

Native Plants Journal offers the option of gold open access (OA) to articles published in the journal. This means that after an article has gone through peer review and is accepted, the published version would be eligible to be made freely available via open access, for a fee. The authors, or their institutions, or funding bodies, must pay an article processing fee to help defray the costs of publication. The electronic version of the article will then appear on the journal website, free for readers to access without a paywall, in perpetuity and without an embargo. Gold OA articles are published under the CC-BY-ND-NC license, which allows sharing and access, but does not allow republication, commercial use, or distribution. A less restrictive CC license may be negotiated with the publisher separately for a higher fee. Articles can also be made open access at any point after they have been published in the journal, even if some time has passed since initial publication. Please direct questions about open access to the editorial contact.


OA fee information and payment options
UW Press Journals permissions page


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