Endangered Plants

Northeastern Bulrush---Anna Siegfried
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The northeastern bulrush is found in PA, NH, VT, VA, WV, MD, MA, and Ontario. Pennsylvania has the largest population of northeastern bulrushes. This plant prefers shallow water or water saturated areas; they are all most always found in wetlands, small ponds, seasonal pools, wet depressions, and beaver ponds. It is very difficult to recognize them because the northeastern bulrush looks similar to grass. This tall sedge grows 8-12 dm in height, has umbellate-shaped flower heads, and contains fruit with achenes (any hard, one –seeded fruit). When the flower heads are mature they have downward arching rays. Flowering occurs from mid-June to July, and the fruiting occurs through September. They also have short, thick underground rhizomes where the leaves emerge. This plant can tolerate dormant season floods until the depth of the water reaches above 5 dm. Adequate sunlight is preferred because the plant seeks out openings within tree canopies. Water level affects the growth of northeastern bulrushes, so even natural water fluctuations can harm the plant. The northeastern bulrush is known as an endangered specie in all its ranges. It has been endangered since 1991. The smaller populations are due to wetland destruction when people drain them for housing, we build roads on them, or when runoff from upland sources contaminates the sedges’ habitat. Other reasons are because of all-terrain vehicles trampling the plants and their habitat, fires particularly at a site in PA, and logging (especially at one site in MD). Logging causes soil disturbances and excess available light for invasive exotic plants to grow. Because of the overpopulation of white-tailed deer there are more deer to eat or trample the sedges. To protect the northeastern bulrush, volunteers work in organizations such as the New England Plant Conservation Program and monitor the conditions of the northeastern bulrush. The organizations mostly focus on factors that affect the germination, growth, and survival of northeastern bulrushes. Some organizations recommend bringing in invasive species to open up more tree canopy closed areas and to control white-tailed deer.

Hibiscus Clayi---Danielle von Waldow
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The Hibiscus Clayi is an endemic shrub or small tree with bright red flowers and found in nature on Kaua'i, HI in dry forests. It was listed as endangered by USFWS. This species is distinguished from other native Hawaiian members of the genus by the lengths of the calyx, calyx lobes, and capsule, and by the margins of the leaves. Hibiscus clayi is known from scattered locations on private and State land on the island of Kaua‘i. These include the Koke‘e region on the western side of the island; Moloa‘a Valley to the north; Nounou Mountain in Wailua to the east; and as far south as Haiku near Hali‘i Stream. This lowland dry forest species generally grows on slopes at an elevation of 750 to 1,150 ft (230 to 350 m). Associated taxa include Java plum, koa, kukui, and ti. It is threatened by competition with alien plant taxa and its close proximity of most of the plants to a hiking trail makes them prone to disturbance. Pigs feasting on this flower has also caused major destruction to the species. The Hibiscus Clayi is monitored by continued surveys of population and distribution in known and likely habitats. In addition, Specialists monitor plants for insect damage and plant diseases. This plant's survival is pertinent for several reasons. Being such a beautiful flower, it would be a shame if that beauty was no longer around. The Hibiscus is also used for as an herb in teas as a natural diuretic, and as food coloring.

Michigan Monkey Flower---Vinay Viswanathan
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The Michigan Monkey Flower (Mimulus Michigansis) is an aquatic/semi-aquatic perennial plant, with yellow flowers, blooming from mid-June to mid-July. It has strict habitat requirements, and is found in soil and sand, frequently beneath flowing cold water, almost entirely on the shorelines of the Great Lakes, with the largest populations in northern Michigan by the Mackinac Straits and the Grand Traverse region (it is presently found in an estimated15 sites, all in the state of Michigan). The Michigan Monkey Flower is being put at risk by recreational and residential development by the water. As Mimulus Michigansis requires clean water, as it thrives in the aquatic biome by the coast, increased construction and development by the water has caused the plant to be hurt by polluted water and water drainage as well as hydrological disruptions. Much of the Michigan Monkey Flower population grows in private property and habitat fragmentation has disseminated the population, therefore it is difficult to calculate, survey, and study the entire population. The Federal and State governments are attempting to protect the population in all 15 known populations. They also plan on protecting new populations; this protection would entail the guarding of the plants from construction and development effluent.

Santa Ana River Wooly-Star by Kristen Walczak
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The Santa Ana River Wooly-Star is a plant with stems growing from 10-30 inches tall and stick like pointy branches with small petaled purple and blue flowers. This rare plant is only found in the Santa Ana River flood plain in San Bernardino County, California.The woolly star depends on new sand deposits from the river for its survival. The plant first sprouts in this new sand. Since each plant lives an average of only 5 years, seed reproduction by pollination is the basic way the new plants take root in "older" sand. However, due to dam construction, this plant is now endangered. The building of the Seven Oaks Dam in upper Santa Ana Canyon (completed in 1999) has increased the level of flood protection. But, with less flooding comes less sand flowing with the water and settling into the streambed below. Now, after the state of California has realized the damaging effects this dam has had on this plant, they are attempting to fix it. The flood control districts have permanently reserved 764 acres in the Santa Ana River flood plain where the woolly star grows today. The San Bernardino County Flood Control District will manage this reserve. Although not too much is known about the Wooly-Star, over the next 10 years, biologists plan to conduct research to learn more about both the plant and the pollinators on which it depends. There are now signs posted all over the area about keeping a safe distance from the endangered plants.


Hawaiian Gardenia-by Hannah Wilhelm

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The Hawaiian Gardenia, also known as the Nanu, was once a native plant on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Molokai but is now found on only Oahu and Lanai. It is a small tree that grows up to about 20 feet and is found in dry forests. The trunk of the tree is about 12 inches in diameter and tends to have very smooth bark. The tree blooms white, fragrant flowers. These trees are found in areas of well-drained and nutrient lacking soil. This species began decreasing in the 1930s when a road crew on the island of Hawaii wiped out most of the Nanu population. The remaining amount of Nanu has to compete with wildfires and alien plant competitiors, herbivores, and pathogens. Also, the growing popluation of humans in Hawaii has caused major destruction to the lowland forests that house these Hawaiin Gardenias. Because of the rapid decrease of the plant over the past 60 years, the Hawaiian Gardenia was federally listed on the endangered species list in 1985. In order to increase the amount of species, many botanical gardens and plant facilities that gather seeds of endangered plants have began cultivating the Hawaiian Gardenia. The Hui Malamo Pano organization was created to help preserve the remaining species that are left. This group has created and maintained fences surrounding these trees in an effort to help the Hawaiian Gardenia.

Mariposa Cactus- Sam Scarpino
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The mariposa cactus is native to small area near Brewster County, Texas, and the state of Coahuila, Mexico. Not surprisingly, the plant has been nicknamed the “golf ball cactus” because of its white, spherical exterior. Although, its main differences from an actual golf ball are the spines. At average, the plant grows to about 10 centimeters tall and 6 centimeters wide. Because it is a cactus, and found mostly in desert areas, the mariposa cactus is no exception to these characteristics. It grows in barren and rocky areas, especially those near limestone. The species of cactus has been sought after because of its unusual shape and appearance. Collectors used to hire professional diggers to stockpile the species and ship them away, until in 1983when the species was put on Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to protect it from being harvested. Other factors that put the mariposa cactus at risk include its proximity to local mercury mines, and the dangers posed by off-road recreational vehicle driving. There have been several attempts at keeping the plant at sustainable levels. First is its inclusion on the list of US threatened species in 1979. In addition, as already mentioned, it was put on Appendix 1 of CITES which outlawed harvesting of the species.


Venus Fly Trap by Troy Baltutat
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The Venus Fly Tarp, is a carnivorous plant that catches and digests animal prey—mostly insects and arachnids. Its trapping structure is formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant's leaves and is triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves contacts a hair, the trap closes if a different hair is contacted within twenty seconds of the first strike. The requirement of redundant triggering in this mechanism serves as a safeguard against a waste of energy in trapping objects with no nutritional value. Currently, there are estimated to be more than 3–6 million plants in cultivation compared to only 35,800 plants remaining in nature. Several prominent plant conservationists suggest the plant be labeled as Vulnerable. Precise data on the distribution of population sizes in 1992 from the Office of Plant Protection suggests a more dire state for the species. Smaller populations may go extinct for different reasons and, since small population are more numerous in nature now and contribute more to the total number of plants remaining in the species, most of this unique and remarkable carnivorous plant species may be going extinct soon.
American Hart's Tongue Fern--Emily Schmitt
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This fern is found in close association with outcrops of dolomitic limestone, in coulees, gorges and in cool limestone sinkholes in mature hardwood forests. It requires high humidity and deep shade provided by mature forest canopies or overhanging rock cliffs. It prefers soils high in magnesium. Although this plant is found over a very wide area, from Alabama to Canada, its populations tend to be very small and isolated due to its unique habitat. Because of its natural rarity, it is particularly vulnerable to disturbance. Many activities threaten the American hart's-tongue. Quarrying, recreation and residential development have all destroyed these plants and their habitat. Lumbering and the development of land for ski resorts and country estates, among other activities, threaten Canadian populations of this fern. By removing shade trees, logging raises light levels and lowers humidity, decimating any American hart's-tongue ferns in that area. About half of the known sites in Ontario are on public land, where they receive some protection. In particular, the Niagara Escarpment is protected, in part, by the Niagara Escarpment Plan. Hart's-tongue Fern has very specific habitat requirements, which means that management options such as transplantation and artificial propagation are not straightforward.


Jellyfish Tree- Jenny Godwin
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The Jellyfish Tree is a critically endangered and unusual tree native to the island of Mahe. It is a small tree that can reach up to 10 meters and it has a dense, rounded crown of foliage. The bark is dark and has many distinctive, deep grooves. The leaves are shiny and leathery in appearance with a slightly curved edge; as the plant ages they slowly turn red. It does have fruit that is green and rounded, but it is inedible. The plant is only found on the granite slopes of Mahe and all the plants are at a maximum of 2 km from the sea. It requires a fair amount of precipitation and slightly salty soil conditions. The leading causes of the Jellyfish tree being endangered is climate change and competition of other species. Over the years, the rise in temperature and humidity has caused this population of trees to grow at a slower rate. Also, scientists have found that there are no young trees on the island, poining to the fact that the seeds cannot sucessfully germinate in the wild. Also, through competition with other plants, it appears that the Jellyfish tree has been forced out of its original habitat- moist forests. Now, it has to fight with many other species for water and nutrients. As for conservation efforts, the Jellyfish Tree has been placed in Morne Seychellois National Park, located on the island of Mahe, so it is now protected. Also, scientists are currently conducting reasearch to find the cause of the seeds' inability to germinate in the wild.

Green Pitcher Plant- Carleton Gibson
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The Green Pitcher Plant is a carnivorous exisiting mainly in the southeastern United States in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama. They are very unique in the fact that their leaves come together and form a pitcher shaped bowl. These pitchers can be over 2 feet high and roughly several inches wide. It preys on insects that get caught inside the pitcher of the plant. The top of the pitcher is covered in short hairs which attract the insects to it. However, as the insects continue to move down the pitcher, they will lose their footing and fall all the way to the bottom. The sides of the inside of the pitcher are covered with a waxy substance which is extremely slippery. Once an insect falls into the pitcher, they are typically doomed to death. The substance on the inside contains many digestive fluids which secrete the insects. Only wasps have been known to escape because they can eat their way through the Green Pitcher Plant's leaves. These plants are currently Critically Endangered due to their popularity with exotic plant collectors. These plant collectors are using it in commercial trade and genetically altering the seeds which is further reducing the poulation. They like to live in packs or groups together in fields (as shown in the second picture) and nowadays only 34 of the naturally occuring groups are left in the US. Efforts are being made to restore Green Pitcher Plants such as banning the collection of them in the United States after the CITES Treaty. Also, the USDA is storing seeds and attempting to do ex-situ conservation to get the numbers up.

Dwarf Lake Iris- Anna Meenen
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Dwarf lake iris is a miniature iris with showy, deep blue flowers. The flowers are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in width and 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in height and are born singly on stems less than 2 inches tall. Leaves are up to 6 inches long and 2 inches wide and are flattened, sword-like, and arranged in fan-shaped clusters. Although flowers are usually blue, lilac or white flowers are sometimes found. Dwarf lake iris only grows around the Great Lakes and occurs near the northern shores of Lakes Huron and Michigan in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada. Occurring close to Great Lakes shorelines in cool, moist lakeshore air, dwarf lake iris is found on sand or in thin soil over limestone-rich gravel or bedrock.
The lakeshore habitat of dwarf lake iris has been greatly reduced by shoreline development. Residential and vacation homes as well as associated road-widening, chemical spraying and salting, and off-road vehicle use have caused disturbance and destruction of habitat. Also, because the iris is very beautiful, it has been over-used for commercial purposes. Collection from wild populations could adversely affect the species, and picking the flowers often uproots the plant/ prevent seeds from forming.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of developing a recovery plan that describes actions needed to help this plant survive. Dwarf lake iris populations have been monitored to determine long-term population trends and to better understand habitat and reproductive requirements. Genetic studies have been conducted to better explain population structure and differences between populations. In addition, a variety of government and private conservation agencies are working to preserve the dwarf lake iris and its habitat. Voluntary protection agreements have also been made with some private landowners.

Fassett's Locoweed - Chris Beaulieu
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Fassett's locoweed is a 4 to 12 inch tall herb that belongs to the pea family. It has a long green stem covered with white furs and at the top it has violet or pink flowers. Each stem can have about 10 to 20 flowers. This plant can only be found in specific regions and counties of Wisconsin and nowhere else in the world. It usually grows around shallow lakes with fluctuating water levels. It finds an easy way to feed of the water by rooting itself in gentle, sand-gravel shorelines that surround the boy of water. Fassett's locoweed is endangered due to loss of habitat and degradation. Recreational use of lakes and construction of housing developments have cause a great disturbance and destruction of the plant's habitat. Cattle grazing has also cause the plant's population to decrease. In 1991, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service devised a plan that outlines actions to help this plant to recover. Some of these actions include protecting areas that have Fassett's locoweed and informing landowners who may potentially have the locoweed on their property. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has also taken action by creating tow State Natural Areas where Fasset's Locoweed grows amongst other plants native to Wisconsin.

Prairie bush clover- steve machi

Photo of a flowering prairie bush clover.  Photo by USFWS; Phil Delphey
Photo of a flowering prairie bush clover. Photo by USFWS; Phil Delphey


Prairie bush clover, Lespedeza leptostachya, is a threatened prairie plant found only in the tall grass prairie region of four Midwestern states.Prairie bush clover is a member of the pea family. Also known as slender-leaved bush clover, it has a clover-like leaf comprised of three leaflets about an inch long and a quarter inch wide. Flowering plants are generally between nine and eighteen inches tall with the flowers loosely arranged on an open spike. The endangerment of the Prairie bush clover would be detrimental to our modern day life due to the fact that Alkaloids from wild plants are used as the active agents in anesthetics, insecticides, anticancer drugs and muscle relaxants. Loss of prairie bush clover would eliminate forever the opportunity for future biological research and the potential for such medical and agricultural benefits. The pale pink or cream colored flowers bloom in mid-July. The entire plant has a grayish-silver sheen, making it easy to distinguish from other similar species. Some of the surviving populations are threatened by conversion of pasture to cropland, overgrazing, agricultural expansion, herbicide application, urban expansion, rock quarrying, and transportation right-of-way maintenance and rerouting; hybridization with the more common round-headed bush clover has also been identified as a potential threat in some areas. Approximately 40 percent of the known prairie bush clover sites are protected as dedicated state nature preserves, scientific and natural areas and preserves managed by private conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy. At the beginning of the 19th century, native prairie covered almost all of Illinois and Iowa, a third of Minnesota and six percent of Wisconsin. Prairie with moderately damp to dry soils favored by prairie bush clover was also prime cropland; today only scattered remnants of prairie can be found in the four states. Many of today's prairie bush clover populations occur in sites that escaped the plow because they were too steep or rocky.