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Yes, today we celebrate Endangered Species Day throughout the World. Yet, it is easy to envision yourself with the giant panda, whale, and bald eagle going extinct. But did you know there are more federally fended plant species than animals in the USA?
Still, why rescue plants? Imagine yourself standing in the Sonoran desert, and the symbolic Saguaro cactus is nowhere to see. Or, you visit the Mojave desert, and it no longer has the famous Joshua tree.
The same applies when you visit the California forest, and the redwoods and giant sequoias have vanished. No, as animals become extinct, so do the plants, and even animals cannot live without them.
From bats, and bees, to hummingbirds and owls, rely on plant species for nesting, shelter, and sustenance. Hence, we and the Plantly community celebrate Endangered Species Day yearly, and this year it is on May 21.
Celebrating Endangered Species Day
Now that we have your attention, we want to dedicate this day to our endangered, rare plant species. But before we find out what plant species are endangered, we have exciting information to share.
In the United States, all threatened and endangered species are listed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) does the listing. It is regulated under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.
Whether an organization or an individual, you can create a petition for a species to add to the list. The Fish and Wildlife Service will investigate your petition to determine if it should be listed.
It helps to protect the habitat that the species need to survive. Furthermore, it opens up new conservation opportunities. The ESA does an excellent job rescuing animals to plants and removing them from the endangered list once the population recovers.
Hence, we need to celebrate the ESA when we think of globally unprecedented biodiversity loss. A fact is that they have over 715 animals and 952 plants listed as endangered species, and today we will share some of the most endangered plant species for you in the USA alone.
Endangered USA Plant Species
Here are some of the federally endangered plant species Plantly wants to bring to your attention.
Lilaeopsis schaffneriana var. recurva
The Huachuca water umbel is a rare plant growing in wetlands, and it is one of the most threatened habitats in Arizona. While the plant might look like grass, it belongs to the carrot family. You find this excellent plant growing alongside ponds on the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail.
The Arizona hedgehog cactus is one unique cactus growing in Arizona. You find them mainly in the central parts. The cactus blooms a vibrant crimson red flower and is seen on the US60 between Globe and Superior. In 2018 the Arizona Department of Transportation salvaged a few of these plants in the path of a new bridge-building over Pino Creek. They moved the plants to the Desert Botanical Garden to help rehabilitate them.
Another endangered cactus species is Florida Semaphore from the Florida Keys, and there are only two remaining populations. The saddest thing is that the plant only grows male flowers.
Hence, you cannot propagate sexually but can only be done vegetatively once the pads fall to the ground. To help care for the plant, the Desert Botanical Garden is working in partnership with the Fairchild Botanical Garden.
With their dedication and hard work, they help these plants to exist.
While many plants are starting to become endangered, another big concern is the Monarch butterfly which is also at risk. So, it is not only plants that need caring but also animals. Conserving plants helps conserve insects and animals.
With the native plants in peril, other species depend on them, like this iconic butterfly. Unfortunately, the population has plummeted nationwide as they lose their overwintering and breeding place. For example, the western monarch will overwinter in California, but this has gone down by 99%. So you see fewer and fewer of them in the region.
So the ESA has listed the monarch butterfly as endangered to protect them. To help this butterfly not to become extinct, it helps to plant butterfly habitats to support them.
Other Endangered Plants
These plants are only a few that need conserving, and there are many more.
- The Canebrake pitcher is unique to Alabama and has been a carnivorous plant on the endangered list for over 40 years.
- In the wetlands of southeastern U.S., you find the Southern spicebush, also known as pondberry, on the endangered list. This is because the aromatic shrub produces berries that are food for the swamp rabbits, hermit trusses, and armadillos, to name a few.
- Another example of outdoor plant species in danger because of commercial and academic purposes is the sandplain false foxglove. It is an annual herb that grows a flower for only one day. These plants need open spaces with the clear ground to thrive.
If you want to play your part on Endangered Species Day, it helps to become more aware of different species listed as becoming extinct. The best you can do is help protect them if you notice any of these plants growing near you.
Another great way to play your part is volunteering for habitat conservation in your region. By joining a group, you can work together to protect your natural land by removing invasive species and keeping the native plants on the land.
So, get your hands dirty and clean up the habitat in the neighborhood parks and areas to make room for the endangered plants found in your area.
Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!