The bulk of Furbish's life's work--collecting, classifying, and drawing the flora of Maine--was done between 1870 and 1908. By 1880 she had earned respect among well-known naturalists, including the eminent American botanist Asa Gray. In 1894, Furbish also helped to found the Josselyn Botanical Society of Maine and she served as president in 1911. In 1908, Furbish bequeathed her collection of paintings and drawings to Bowdoin College. She died on December 6, 1931.
Kate Furbish's name gained fame in 1976 when the wild snapdragon, named the Furbish lousewort, was rediscovered after having been believed to be extinct. This discovery helped stall and eventually stop the building of the Dickey-Lincoln dam and reservoir on the St. John's River, which would have flooded 88,000 acres of northern Maine forests.