When you think of endangered species, you probably picture exotic animals like pandas or tigers, but species don’t have to be far away or even animals to be endangered.
In fact, there are over 800 plants in the United States alone that are listed as threatened or endangered under federal jurisdiction. Even more are protected on the state level.
Netcredit used the United States Department of Agriculture’s resources to create a graphic that highlights an endangered plant in each state.
The Canebrake pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant, unique to Alabama, only growing in two counties in the central part of the state. Its limited habitat has kept it on the endangered list for over 40 years.
The Aleutian holly fern is Alaska’s only native endangered plant. There are fewer that 150 plants known to exist, and it is only found on Adak Island, one of the Aleutian Islands.
The Nichol’s echinocactus or Nichol’s turk’s head cactus is found in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. This eight-ribbed barrel cactus has a mean age of nine and one-half years to more than 13 years while the maximum age varies from 24-39 years. It is mainly threatened by collectors who collect seeds from the cactus in the wild, inhibiting propagation and mining that destroys its habitat.
The Southern spicebush, also known as ‘pondberry,’ is found in the wetlands of the southeastern U.S. It is an aromatic shrub that produces berries that provide food for hermit thrushes, swamp rabbits and armadillos, among other animals. Wetland drainage for agriculture and forestry has made it harder for this species to breed.
Ventura marsh milkvetch is a herbaceous perennial has only been spotted in seven places in the past century. This plant thrives in back dune habitat, coastal meadows and near coastal salt marshes. It was believed to be extinct until June 1997 when it was rediscovered by a biologist at a proposed development site. Very little is known about the ecological requirements for this species.
Clay-loving wild buckwheat is a low-growing, round subshrub that only found in the clay landscapes of Colorado. The limited nature of its favorite soil keeps clay-loving wild buckwheat from having a widespread population and 75 percent of its habitat is on privately held land. Its preferred soil type is not hospitable to most plant life, often making it the dominate species in these areas.
The sandplain false foxglove is an annual herb that have flowers that last for one day. It thrives in areas with poor, dry soils and regions that have been disturbed by fires or grazing. Sandplain false foxglove needs open space on clear ground and does not do well if vegetation builds up or if trees grow and form a canopy. This species is threatened by habitat fragmentation and overexploitation for commercial or academic purposes.
A flowering plant part of the carrot family, Canby’s cowbane is also called Canby’s dropwort. It is native to the southeastern U.S. and is threatened by the loss of its wetland habitat. The plant’s stems form networks with each other to create rhizomatic colonies. The larva of the black swallowtail butterfly feed on the plant.
The Avon Park rattlebox is a duckbilled harebell that was first collected in 1950 but was finally named in the 1980s. This perennial herb has a limited habitat in Central Florida, which is being threatened by land development. The plant has low flower and fruit production, making it more of a challenge to reproduce. It has a high annual survival rate but few seeds are produced and few of those germinate.
Despite the name, black-spored quillwort, also known as black-spored Merlin’s grass, is not from a magical land. It is an aquatic plant that grows in rock-rimmed seasonal pools atop granite outcrops. It reproduces by spreading its spores when the plant dries out. Its habitat is threatened by quarrying, trash dumping and trampling.
Cabbage on a stick is now found naturally growing on only one sea cliff on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The plant has a scent compared to honeysuckle and its only known pollinator was a certain type of now-extinct hawk moth. This means it is impossible for the plant to reproduce on its own unless artificially pollinated by humans. Despite its rarity in the wild, it’s not hard to cultivate this species in a nursery.
Hermit milkvetch is an orchid-looking perennial herb that has an erect habit with large yellowish flowers and erect, stiff pods. The plant faces multiple challenges reproducing and suffers from low survival rates, so it is increasingly reliant on the aid of conservationists.
Running buffalo clover thrived in areas of rich soils in open areas where grazing bison kept these areas open. While it was once abundant, it quickly disappeared after pioneers settled the land. It’s believed to be in direct relation to the disappearance of large herbivores in its habitat, like the bison. Other threats include competition from introduced species and habitat loss.
Named after Dr. Charles Wilkins Short who first discovered Short’s Goldenrod growing on a limestone outcrop, in the Falls of Ohio, on the Indiana side of the falls. A recovery effort made in 1995 by the staff of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Divisions of Nature Preserves and State Parks returned seven clumps of the plant to its historic habitat.
The blue giant hyssop is a member of the mint family and is a favored plant of bees. It has lilac-blue tubular flowers that bloom from June to October. The plant is in short supply in Iowa, which is at the geographic extreme of the hyssop’s habitable landscape.
Mead’s milkweed was once widespread in the tallgrass prairie. The plant produces a single stalk leading up to around a dozen greenish flowers. The flowers emit a spicy fragrance similar to cloves. Fragmentation of its habitat has made it less likely it will have visits from pollinators. Other reasons for this tallgrass prairie herb’s threatened status are habitat loss and the mowing of the hayfields where it grows.
Filmy angelica has a greenish-white compound umbel of up to two-dozen umbellets – umbels within an umbel. The plant has been known to leave pollinators who visit it intoxicated so it is suspected to be poisonous. It grows up to six feet tall at elevations thousands of feet high. It is endangered in Kentucky and Maryland.
Louisiana quillwort is a grass-like aquatic herb can be found in just three places in Louisiana. It lives in shallow, running water, rooted in silt, sand and gravel. It is considered one of the “rarest quillworts in North America.” It is threatened by the clearcutting of streambank timber as it depends on a specific light regime associated with a well-developed stream canopy.
Furbish’s lousewort is a perennial herb and Maine’s only federally endangered plant. It was the first to be named after female botanist, Kate Furbish. She categorized it as Furbish’s wood betony in 1880. The plant was considered extinct at a time but was rediscovered in 1976. Congress deauthorized a hydroelectric project as the dam would flood a considerable amount of the lousewort’s habitat.
The barbedbristle bulrush is also known as the northeastern bulrush. It is native to the northeastern United States and lives in the ponds and shallow waters. It produces an arching cluster of flowers surrounded by bristles with sharp barbs. Its flowers from mid-June to July. Its wetland habitat is threatened by agricultural, residential or recreation development as well as water pollution from various sources.
The Adam and Eve orchid or puttyroot spreads through the undergrowth with its tubers forming large colonies. Its leaves are pinstriped and in late May or early June it will flower with purple green flowers. It gets its biblical name from the twin corms (bulb-like organs) that make up its roots.
The Michigan monkeyflower is the state’s only endemic plant that rarely found anywhere but the shores of the Great Lakes. It has tubular flowers with yellow petals and a red-spotted lower lip. Because the plant is semi-aquatic, it requires cold, clear flowing water in full sunlight. This makes it vulnerable to development and other activities that alter the water drainage patterns.
The Minnesota fawnlily is also called the dwarf trout lily or Minnesota adder’s-tongue. This plant only grows 3 to 4 inches tall prefers to grow along floodplains and ridges. It is threatened by habitat changes and invasive species.
False rosemary is a member of the mint family. Its herbal scent and lavender flowers attract bees and butterflies in the spring. It is adapted to growing in dune and open scrubby areas. It has been suggested for xeriscaping purposes thanks to its ability to grow well with little water even in poor soils.
Virginia sneezeweed is found only in Virginia and Missouri. This wildflower is a member of the Aster family and flowers from July to October. While it is similar to common sneezeweed the two are differentiated by a number of characteristics including leaf shape and habitat requirements. Because it grows in wetlands it is threatened by any practices that alter the wetlands or the hydrology.
Streambank wild hollyhock has showy pink, rose-purple or nearly white flowers that bloom from June to August. It can grow up to 6 feet tall but tends to only grow 1 ½ to 3 feet in drier locations. The plant has hard-coated seeds that can remain viable in the soil for more that 50 years. Often seed germination is triggered after a wildfire. The population has declined due to fire suppression.
Blowout beardtongue is a perennial that is native to nine counties in the Nebraska Sand Hills as well as the Red Desert of Wyoming. It has milky-blue flowers and thrives in blowouts, which are areas of disturbance where the wind has hollowed out the dune. Control of wildfires and stabilization of sand dunes has reduced the number of blowout sites, limiting the plant’s habitat.
Amargosa niterwort is a petite plant that grows no more than 10 centimeters tall. It grows in the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in the Amargosa Basin as it is a salt-loving plant. It is mainly affected by changes to the groundwater levels caused by pumping.
Jesup’s milkvetch can only be found at three sites in the world. The plant lives in the silt-filled crevices in steep outcrops along the Connecticut River, between New Hampshire and Vermont. It produces tiny violet flowers that bloom in early May. Spring flooding wipes out the milkvetch’s competition and deposits fertile soil.
Chaffseed or American chaffseed is currently the sole species classified under the genus Schwalbea, but it is part of the snapdragon family. This plant can be found in wet acidic grasslands. The species does best in areas that are still subject to frequent fires. Fire suppression and habitat disturbance have eliminated it from two-thirds of the states where it occurred historically.
The Holy Ghost ipomopsis is a rare species in the phlox family. It is known to be found in one canyon in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It likes to grow in small openings or clearings on forested slopes in this canyon. It is suspected the plant needs periodic disturbances to clear its habitat of competing vegetation. The plant has a low fecundity, as it doesn’t often produce viable seeds.
A member of the sunflower family, clasping arnica or lanceleaf arnica features yellow, daisy-like flowers. It prefers to grow in moist forests, glades and by mountain streambanks. It is rare around the world, and the New York populations are particularly vulnerable because they grow in small enough groups to be wiped out in a single disturbance.
The Jones’ pitcher plant features tubular pitchers that are green with maroon veins. It produces a fragrant odor attracting insects who then slip inside and are trapped. Paralyzed by the nectar, the plant eventually digests the insects. It can be found in seepage bogs in the Appalachian Mountains.
The Great Plains white fringed orchid was historically found in the tallgrass prairies. It produces 10 to 24 creamy white flowers that are deeply fringed and is pollinated at night by large sphinx months. Fire suppression, overgrazing and habitat fragmentation have led to the decline of the species.
The American globeflower is a delicate buttercup with pure white to pale yellow petals. It prefers to live in swamps and other areas with wet mineral-rich soil. The population diminished due to reduced wetlands. Now the surviving populations are inhibited by habitat fragmentation, drainage and flooding.
Not to be confused with the Great Plains white fringed orchid, the prairie white fringed orchid grows up to 50 inches tall and it prefers moist alkaline soil, growing in bogs and fens. It can even thrive in roadside ditches. Habitat destruction along with over-collection of this orchid has led to the plant’s endangered status.
A member of the lily family, Gentner’s fritillary was first discovered by 18-year-old Laura Gentner in the 1940s. It produces deep red to maroon bell-shaped flowers. The plant has a surprising variety of habitats despite its endangered status, growing anywhere from shaded banks to open grasslands. It is mainly threatened by habitat destruction, competition from exotic plants and grazing.
Smooth purple coneflower thrives in areas with plenty of sunlight in calcium- and magnesium- rich soils. It resembles the common coneflower but can be differentiated by the leaves, which are heart-shaped with the common species. Fire suppression, vandalism, herbicides and invasive species are all threats to this plant population.
The dragon’s mouth orchid can be found in bogs, fens, swamps and wetland margins. It has a single pink terminal flower with a showy lip and white and yellow fringed crests. The plant depends on inexperience bees to pollinate it has it offers little to no nectar reward for bees.
Named after Lewis David von Schweinitz, the Moravian clergyman and “founder of American mycology,” Schweinitz’s sunflower is now one of the rarest species of sunflower in the United States. It grows from 3 to 6 feet tall but has be known to reach 16 feet. Farming and fire suppression has reduced this plant’s habitat to sunny roadsides and right-of-ways.
The only plant listed as endangered or threatened in South Dakota, according to the USDA, is the Great Plains white fringed orchid mentioned earlier for North Dakota. Its reach in North America is from Oklahoma to Manitoba, but it is federally threatened in South Dakota and is missing from most of its natural range. The white-fringed orchid’s number has plunged dangerously due to agriculturalists converting its prairie home to cropland.
The limestone glade milkvetch or Pyne’s ground plum can be found in the cedar glades of the central basin of Tennessee. It was discovered by Milo Pyne in the 1980s who thought the reddish fruits the plant produced look like plums, but the species is actually in the legume family. Like many other plants on this list, its main threat is habitat destruction.
Navasota ladies’ tresses is an orchid named for the its spiral of creamy white flowers that cling to the uppermost part of its floral stalk. A green teardrop-shaped bract that is white-tipped cups the base of each flower. It can be found mostly in post oak woodlands, adjacent to drainages and seasonal streams.
Atwood’s phacelia is endemic to Utah and is known to only be found in one canyon. Each flower has a bell-shaped purple-blue corolla. It faces a number of threats and its small population puts it at risk of extinction. Invasive plants, grazing and road maintenance are all things that could disturb the plants.
Auricled twayblade is a rare orchid that lives in forests, swamps and bogs. In the summer it produces pale green or bluish-green flowers. It grows from 4 to 8 inches tall. Little is known about the auricled twayblade’s biology, but it seems to favor wet, sandy soils.
A member of the mustard family, streambank bittercress is also known as the small-anthered bittercress. It was feared to be extinct at a time but was rediscovered in the 1980s. This plant grows in moist, shady areas near streams and in dim woodlands. It has been impacted by a number of factors including agricultural and residential development, surface runoff and herbicide drift.
Oregon checkerbloom is a wildflower in the mallow family. It grows in marshes and meadows. The subspecies endemic to the Wenatchee Mountains in Washington is the rarest known plant in the state. It has soft pink blooms that are visible in the summer. Habitat fragmentation, altered hydrology and invasive plants are all threats to this plant.
A member of the mustard family, shale barren rockcress grows 1 to 2 feet tall and has small white flowers and long fruits called siliques. It lives on steep slopes of bare shale. The rocky soil receives direct sunlight making it too hot for most plants. It is pollinated by the grizzled skipper, which itself was declining in numbers. Loss of shale barren habitat has also been an issue.
Leafy prairie clover is a wildflower that grows 1 to 2 feet tall. It is known to survive in only 14 sites, it can also be found in Illinois, Alabama and Tennessee. It is commonly grown ‘in captivity,’ but natural populations are on the brink of extinction. Land development, grazing and fire suppression all pose threats to the population.
The Colorado butterfly plant is part of the evening primrose family and this one has been making a comeback thanks to its listing on the endangered species list. It has white petals that turn pink with age. It is typically found in wetland habitats and among native grasses. It had declined due to loss and degradation of its habitat.
To create this list, NetCredit consulted the USDA’s database of threatened and endangered plants. First, they looked at each state’s list of threatened and endangered plants. NetCredit selected those that were endangered on a federal level, unique-looking, had some interesting history or story and/or were not widely dispersed.
Next, when federally endangered plants were not available, NetCredit used the previous criteria to pick plants that were endangered on the state level. Where those were not available, they selected the best option of threatened plant, first on the federal level, then, if necessary, on the state level. NetCredit says they selected a unique plant for each state.