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Applegate’s milk vetch (Astragalus applegatei)
Range: Klamath Basin in southern Oregon
Believed extinct until its rediscovery in 1983, Applegate’s milk vetch is now believed to exist at only three sites in the lower Klamath Basin in southern Oregon. This slender, white-flowered member of the pea family is restricted to flat-lying, seasonally moist, strongly alkaline soils in grassland meadows. Though it was listed as endangered 1993, by 1998 Applegate's milk vetch was found in only three locations, and one of these had just three individual plants.

Extremely specialized site requirements, limited distribution, and small population all make the Applegate’s milk vetch particularly vulnerable to extirpation. Climate change threatens this plant through higher risk of drought and higher temperatures that can dry up its habitat.
Ash Meadows gumplant (Grindelia fraxino-pratensis)
Range: Ash Meadows area, primarily Amargosa Valley in southwestern Nevada and bordering sites in California
This member of the sunflower family is primarily found on flat, open, alkaline soils in meadows and wetlands near seeps and springs. Only a small number of Ash Meadows gumplants are known — the total area of all known populations may be less than one square mile. Because of its dependence on seeps and springs, the Ash Meadows gumplant is threatened by the lowering of water tables due to agricultural uses, as well as trampling by livestock and wildlife using the springs as water sources. Pressures on water resources are likely to increase under climate change.

This plant was federally listed as threatened in 1985. In 2001, settlement of a Center case required the Bureau of Land Management to fence off the gumplant’s sensitive riparian habitat to shield it from cattle and nearby road use.
Ash-grey Indian paintbrush (Castilleja cinerea)
Range: Small number of sites in Southern California
The ash-grey Indian paintbrush is a semi-parasitic perennial plant that receives nutrients from host plants such as native buckwheats and sagebrushes. A source of nectar for hummingbirds and insects, the plant primarily depends on the clay, stony soils of pebble-plains habitat. This plant was federally listed as a threatened species in 2006. Although ash-grey Indian paintbrush is moderately adapted to fire, an increase in fire frequency could hurt the host plants on which the paintbrush relies. Similarly, changes in plant associations due to climate change could cause a loss of host plants from the limited sites where the ash-grey Indian paintbrush currently grows.

The Center has worked to protect the pebble-plains habitat of the ash-grey Indian paintbrush, including blocking development near the San Bernardino’s Big Bear Lake.
Big Bear Valley sandwort (Arenaria ursine)
Range: San Bernardino County, California, in the vicinity of Big Bear Lake, above 6,700 feet
Big Bear Valley sandwort is a flowering plant in the pink family that prefers wet, rocky sites. Like the ash-grey Indian paintbrush, Arenaria ursina is primarily specific to the clay, stony soils of the pebble-plains habitats. There are only 25 known occurrences, 17 of which are on the San Bernardino National Forest. This plant is particularly vulnerable to disturbance and soil compaction that occurs when the pebble-plains sites are used as firebreaks during efforts to fight fire in the surrounding forests. Also, changes in precipitation and temperature caused by climate change may decrease the extent and duration of the conditions favored by the Big Bear Valley sandwort.

Big Bear Valley sandwort was federally listed as a threatened species in 1998. The Center has worked to protect the pebble-plains habitat of this plant, including blocking development near the San Bernardino’s Big Bear Lake.
Black-spored quillwort (Isoetes melanospora)
Range: Georgia
Black-spored quillwort is a small, nonflowering aquatic plant related to ferns. Listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1988, it grows exclusively in shallow, temporary pools on granite outcrops. There are currently only 11 populations known to exist in Georgia. Extremely specialized site requirements, limited distribution, and small populations all make this plant particularly vulnerable to extirpation. Climate change threatens the black-spored quillwort through higher risk of drought and higher temperatures that can dry the fragile pools it calls home.
Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. californica)
Range: Northern Sacramento Valley, California
Butte County meadowfoam grows along the edges of vernal pools and ephemeral streams. There are only 11 known populations, restricted to a narrow, 25-mile strip along the northern Sacramento Valley of California. Butte County meadowfoam is an annual wetlands flower. Listed as endangered 1992, all remaining plants are threatened by urban development and the conversion of vernal pool habitat to agricultural fields. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures increasing stress on vernal pool species — and potentially drying pools entirely. Vernal pool populations are particularly vulnerable to extirpation due to their small populations, limited distribution, and dependence on particular site characteristics, all making migration from climate impacts extremely difficult or impossible.
California dandelion (Taraxacum californicum)
Range: San Bernardino Mountains of California
The modestly beautiful California dandelion is known at only 28 sites — each with very few individuals — primarily in moist meadows at higher elevations (6,500-8,500 feet). High mountain meadows are at particular risk of experiencing dramatic changes in precipitation, hydrology, and temperature due to climate change, all of which can change the water available for the California dandelion at critical times in the summer, as well as alter the vegetation community associated with the dandelion.

This small perennial dandelion was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1998. The Center spent almost 10 years on efforts to earn federally protected critical habitat for the plant.
California orcutt grass (Orcuttia tenuis)
Range: Southern California’s San Diego and Riverside counties
California orcutt grass grows in vernal pool habitat, favoring the wetter part of the pools. The plant is a federally listed threatened species and is declining throughout its range. Populations are damaged by free-ranging cattle, as well as the Border Patrol’s heavy use of dirt roads adjacent to the vernal pools the grass relies upon. These impacts have already made California orcutt grass one of the rarest plants in San Diego and Riverside counties. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation, higher water temperatures, and increased stress on vernal pool species. In years when rainfall is sporadic and pools are late to fill or early to recede, California orcutt grass may fail to germinate or occur only in low numbers in areas where it’s normally been abundant; in some cases, it may even appear to be absent.

In 2007, the Center filed a notice of intent to sue the Bush administration for violations of the Endangered Species Act as a result of a planned transmission corridor.
Canelo Hills ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes delitescens)
Range: San Pedro River watershed in southern Arizona, at elevations of 5,000 feet
A slender, erect member of the orchid family, Canelo Hills ladies’ tresses can grow to be two feet tall. After reaching blooming size, an individual plant doesn’t always bloom in successive years, but it can revert to either its vegetative or underground states. Only a few individuals exist at each known site, and this species’ small population sizes alone make it vulnerable to impacts from livestock grazing to competition with native and nonnative meadow plants. Immediate threats from climate change are range shifts in the associated plant community — which may favor plants competing with Canelo Hills ladies’ tresses — and increased trampling of the plants due to increased use by livestock and wildlife.

The Center has been working to protect Canelo Hills ladies’ tresses since 1993, when we first petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the species under the Endangered Species Act. Because the agency failed to do so, we filed suit in 1996, and the species was listed as endangered the following year.
Coachella Valley milk vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. coachellae)
Range: Coachella Valley in Riverside County, California, found in fewer than 25 locations at low elevations
Living at the edge of Southern California’s Colorado Desert, this foot-tall flowering herb is dependent on sand dune habitat, which is easily devastated by off-road vehicles. Very small populations at each known site —fewer than 25 sites in all — also make the plant particularly vulnerable to disturbance and random events such as drought. Global warming threatens the milk vetch through changing rain patterns that increase the likelihood of drought, as well as higher temperatures that may increase water needs during the early spring bloom and throughout the year.

A Center lawsuit led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to grant Endangered Species Act protection to this imperiled desert plant in 1998.
Contra Costa goldfields (Lasthenia conjugens)
Range: Northern California
A showy, spring flower in the sunflower family that can grow to a height of 12 inches, Contra Costa goldfields grows in vernal pools within open grassy areas in woodlands and valley grasslands at low elevations in northern California. Only 22 populations are known. All these populations are threatened by urban development or agricultural land conversion. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation, higher water temperatures, and increased stress on vernal pool species.

The Center’s efforts have provided Endangered Species Act protections for more than 35 Bay Area species, including the Contra Costa goldfields. In 1997, the Center notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we’d sue the agency if it didn’t list 95 western species that had been proposed for listing but were languishing without a final decision. The Contra Costa goldfields was listed as endangered that year.
Cook’s lomatium (Lomatium cookii)
Range: Southwestern Oregon, particularly the Agate Desert
Cook’s lomatium is a small, perennial plant in the parsley family that occurs only in ephemeral wetlands and vernal pools with shallow pan soils, sparse vegetation, and few trees. The usually inconspicuous lomatium flourishes in early spring after winter rains, flowering and setting seed all before the hot, dry summer sets in. Since the 1980s, the species has lost more than 50 percent of its range to development, and none of its remaining habitat has escaped the invasion of weedy competitors. Disturbance to vernal pools has altered their hydrology, making the pools more susceptible to drying during drought. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation, higher water temperatures, and increased stress on vernal pool species.

In 2002, 10 years after the Center and allies sued for failing to list about 500 imperiled species — including the Cook’s lomatium — the Cook’s lomatium was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Diamond head schiedea (Schiedea adamantis)
Range: Hawaii
This small shrub is found only on the rim of Diamond Head Crater on the Hawaiian island of O`ahu, in an area approximately 36 by 72 feet. Diamond Head schiedea was first collected in 1955 and described as a new species in 1970. Though it normally withstands harsh conditions – strong winds, high light intensity, low precipitation, and high temperatures – since 1988, unusually prolonged drought conditions have decimated the Schiedea population. From the 200 individuals once counted, only two plants are known to survive – though a few more may recover with increased precipitation.

This range-restricted plant is vulnerable to extended drought over a several-year period, which could result in high mortality and extinction for the species despite its adaptation to dry lowland conditions. Seedlings are very vulnerable to desiccation, and adults may also suffer high mortality due to a sequence of dry years.
Fish Slough milk vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. piscinensis)
Range: California
The rare Fish Slough milk vetch is a member of the pea family, found exclusively on sandy alkali meadows at elevations of 3,500 to 3,700 feet in a desert oasis in southeastern California named Fish Slough. Fish Slough also provides habitat for several other rare plants and animals, including the Owens pupfish and the King’s ivesia. Fish Slough milk vetch is a perennial with lavender flowers. It was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1998, due to a number of threats: habitat destruction from off-road vehicle use, cattle grazing, competition with nonnative plant species, groundwater pumping, and water diversions. Fish Slough milk-vetch is particularly vulnerable due to its extremely limited distribution at a single site. Increased temperatures and altered precipitation due to global warming can exacerbate threats to the milk vetch by further stressing the plant and increasing water pumping from the aquifer on which the Fish Slough oasis depends.

The Center and California Native Plant Society sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2001 to compel the designation of critical habitat for the Fish Slough milk vetch and seven other plants. Critical habitat was designated in 2005.
Fleshy owl’s clover (Castilleja campestris succulenta)
Range: California
Succulent owl’s-clover is also known as fleshy owl’s-clover. Its bright yellow to white flowers appear in May. It lives in the margins of vernal pools and some seasonal wetlands, often on acidic soils. Through August 2005, the California Natural Diversity Data Base had catalogued only 91 occurrences. Habitat loss and fragmentation are the largest threats to the survival and recovery of vernal pool species, including the fleshy owl’s clover. And global warming adds another factor that threatens to dry up the remaining but shrinking vernal pool ecosystems of California, where the fleshy owl’s clover lives.
Florida prairie clover (Dalea carthagenensis floridana)
Range: Big Cypress National Preserve in Monroe and Collier counties and Miami-Dade County, Florida
The Florida prairie clover has been reduced to just nine isolated patches in fragmented habitat in the low-lying south Florida pinelands. This rare plant is at risk of winking out forever due to fire suppression, exotic plant invasion, squashing by off-road vehicles — and now, climate change. Hurricanes, tropical storms, and storm surges harm the delicate plant, making increasingly powerful hurricanes, higher storm surge, and ever-increasing sea-level rise due to climate change serious threats to its future. But though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declares this plant is in imminent need of federal protection, the Florida prairie clover remains a mere “candidate” for Endangered Species Act listing.
Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)
Range: Sierra Nevada of California
Famous naturalist John Muir wrote of this species in about 1870, “Do behold the King Sequoia! Behold! Behold! seems all I can say.” Giant sequoias are the world's largest trees in terms of total volume. They grow to an average height of 165 to 280 feet and can be 18 to 24 feet in diameter. The oldest known giant sequoia is estimated to be 3,500 years old. As temperatures and summer droughts increase, researchers have warned that the sequoia could die off more quickly, following the pattern recently found for old-growth pine and fir trees in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks. Climate change could also interfere with the giant sequoias' ability to sprout seedlings, making it more difficult for trees to replace themselves.

In 2005, the Center joined other conservation organizations to challenge a Bush administration decision to log Giant Sequoia National Monument, home to two-thirds of all sequoia redwoods in the world.
Golden sedge (Carex lutea)
Range: Northeast Cape Fear River watershed in Onslow and Pender counties, North Carolina
Although the golden sedge is found throughout the United States, it’s locally rare and endangered due to its dependence on particular soil conditions. This plant’s distribution is limited to eight known populations in a few square miles in a single watershed in southeastern North Carolina. It grows on sandy soils with a basic pH at the edges of the savanna-swamp, where the soil is often wet or shallowly inundated. Because of its specific needs for soil type and location, the golden sedge is vulnerable to changes in the water table. Climate change intensifies the threats to golden sedge both through reductions in precipitation and through the resulting increased water pumping for nearby agriculture, both of which could result in drying of the particular soils and locations upon which the golden sedge relies.

In 2002, the golden sedge achieved federal endangered status thanks to legal action by the Center and allies. In 2007, we filed suit to earn the plant critical habitat.
Graham’s penstemon (Penstemon grahamii)
Range: Uinta Basin in Carbon, Duchesne, and Uinta counties, Utah; Rio Blanco County, Colorado
The lovely, pale lavender flowers of the Graham’s penstemon, with their magenta-striped throats and fiery orange inner parts, are quite remarkable in appearance. Also remarkable — and perilous — is the fact that this plant lives exclusively on oil shale in the Uinta Basin of northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado, where oil, gas, and oil shale development threatens its very existence. A member of the figwort family, the penstemon is a small plant — only about eight inches tall — but it has surprisingly large flowers for its size. While the penstemon is uniquely adapted to live in the Southwest’s harsh, dry climate, it requires a very specific type of shale substrate and can’t simply shift northward through different soil types as global warming increases.
Greene’s tuctoria (Tuctoria greenei)
Range: Butte, Merced, Shasta, and Tehama counties, California
Greene's tuctoria has many names, including Greene's orcutt grass and awnless spiralgrass. This tufted annual in the grass family is restricted to vernal pools in northern California. Because it grows in the margins of vernal pools, Greene’s tuctoria is susceptible to livestock trampling and competition from nonnative weeds. The vernal pool ecosystems on which it depends are also highly fragmented by development for both agricultural and urban uses, while global warming threatens to dry up the remaining pools.
Hairy orcutt grass (Orcuttia pilosa)
Range: Central Valley, California
Hairy orcutt grass inhabits the vernal pools cradled in the rolling hills of California’s great Central Valley. It grows alongside slender orcutt grass across a portion of their respective ranges but is readily distinguished, as its name implies, by more of the soft, straight hairs on its grayish foliage. Its vernal-pool habitat is highly threatened by livestock grazing. Vernal pool ecosystems across California are fragmented by development for agricultural and urban uses, while global warming threatens to dry up the pools that remain.
Henderson’s checkermallow (Sidalcea hendersonii)
Range: Oregon, Washington, Canada, Alaska
This tall perennial puts on a beautiful show all summer with its spike of purple to pink blooms. But how much longer that show will go on in the wild is unclear. While this species was historically found in at least 10 sites in Oregon, it currently occurs naturally only on Cox Island, and there are believed to be fewer than 100 total populations.

Because Henderson’s checkermallow exists on or adjacent to tidelands, it’s particularly vulnerable to the sea-level rise anticipated to accelerate with global warming.
Hidden Lake bluecurls (Trichostema austromontanus ssp. Compactum)
Range: Hidden Lake in San Jacinto Mountains, California
Hidden Lakes bluecurls are known to exist in just one location — Hidden Lake, a shallow, seasonal lake at an elevation of about 8,700 feet in Mount San Jacinto State Park Wilderness in Riverside County, California. Hidden Lake is the only naturally occurring body of water in this isolated mountain range. Hidden Lake bluecurls germinate and grow around the moist edges of the lake, which is fed by snowmelt runoff filling a glacial depression. Decreases in California snowpack and increasing drought conditions threaten to dry up this lake and cause the extinction of this very rare species.

To protect rare Southern California plants from extinction and promote their recovery, the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society filed a lawsuit to compel designation of critical habitat for six extremely rare plant species, including the Hidden Lakes bluecurls.
Holmgren’s milk vetch (Astragalus holmgreniorum)
Range: Washington County, Utah, and Mojave County, Arizona
Holmgren’s milk vetch is so finely adapted to its arid northern Mojave Desert environment that it’s often the only plant found alive atop soil strewn with small stones and gravel deposits. Where other desert plants fail to grow, the Holmgren’s milk vetch thrives. But with persistent encroachment by urban development, off-road vehicles, grazing, invasive plant species, and now global warming, Holmgren’s milk vetch becomes less and less able to eke out a living among the stones and gravels. Climate change and its potential for increased drought cycles are a significant concern. The milk vetch has been shown to reproduce and survive better in years following increased rainfall. Consecutive years of drought can lead to low reproduction that could outlast the longevity of the plant’s seedbank, meaning that the affected populations could become extirpated.

In 2006, after much involvement from the Center and allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally designated critical habitat and created a recovery plan for the Holmgren’s milk vetch.
Hoover’s spurge (Chamaesyce hooveri)
Range: Northeastern Sacramento Valley
Hoover's spurge is also known as Hoover’s sanmat. Its flower petal-like glands range in color from red to olive, with blooms appearing in July. Hoover's spurge grows in relatively large, deep vernal pools at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills. Vernal pool species like the Hoover’s spurge are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation from urbanization, agricultural conversion, and mining. Today, global warming threatens to dry up the remaining but shrinking vernal pool ecosystems of California that this plant needs to survive.
Huachuca water umbel (Lilaeopsis schaffneriana spp. recurva)
Range: San Pedro River, Santa Cruz River, Rio Yaqui, and Rio Sonora
Once a flourishing part of extensive riparian habitats in southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico, the Huachuca water umbel has been reduced to a handful of discontinuous clumps in a handful of Southwest wetlands. The Huachuca water umbel has a unique ability to expand its population quickly after a flood, moving to disturbed habitat until competition with other species becomes too great. But to use this method, the plant needs refugia — places that let it escape the effects of floods — as well as an unaltered watershed flow system and a healthy riparian community. With suitable wetland habitat rapidly disappearing from the Southwest, global warming will increase threats to the remaining wetlands through changes in precipitation that reduce water tables, increase water pumping from the aquifer, and change the timing of flood events.

The Huachuca water umbel was listed as endangered in 1997. To protect the San Pedro River, one of the water umbel’s main habitats, the Center filed a lawsuit in 2001 and forced Fort Huachuca to improve its feeble water conservation plan, which threatened this plant.
Johnson’s seagrass (Halophila johnsonii)
Range: Fragmented distribution along 125 miles of coastline in southeastern Florida from Sebastian Inlet to Biscayne Bay
The creeping rhizomes of Johnson’s seagrass can be found throughout a patchwork of lagoons in southeastern Florida. This miniature grass provides a refuge for small marine animals and a nursery for the young. Large herbivores, like the green sea turtle and Florida manatee, frequently feed on Johnson’s seagrass leaves. Seagrass meadows provide an important link to the many communities that make up the aquatic web of life. But sea-level rise and changes in water flow that increase water turbidity threaten seagrasses that grow in shallow, relatively clear waters. Thanks to the extremely limited range of Johnson’s seagrass, this plant faces an even greater risk of extinction with the increase in hurricane activity due to global warming.

In 1998, Johnson’s seagrass was listed as a threatened species after the Biodiversity Legal Foundation (later absorbed by the Center) petitioned and litigated for its protection. Critical habitat was designated two years later.
Koki’o (Kokia drynarioides)
Range: Leeward side of the island of Hawaii
The koki’o tree can grow up to eight meters tall and has beautiful, large, ornamental scarlet flowers. The sap of this rare tree has been used by native Hawaiians to make red dyes, and its bark was used to treat thrush. There are now fewer than 10 trees known to exist in the wild. These few remaining koki’o occur at sites with very similar precipitation and temperature characteristics. As rain patterns and temperatures change due to climate change, it may become increasingly difficult for this tree to find suitable sites for regeneration, and climate change may even threaten the remaining trees.

The loss of the koki’o may have had severe impacts on organisms that rely on the species, such as the now-endangered nectar-drinking honeycreepers, which depend on these trees for food. The koki’o tree was listed as endangered in 1984.
Lane Mountain milk vetch (Astragalus jaegerianus)
Range: Southeastern California
Found at only four sites in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, the Lane Mountain milk vetch is a wispy perennial that grows on coarse soils and often can be found growing intertwined among the branches of other shrubs for support. It has the remarkable ability to survive for years underground, subsisting on what little moisture its taproot can soak up. Because of its extremely limited distribution in such a harsh environment, the Lane Mountain milk vetch is particularly vulnerable to local extirpation. The higher temperatures and increased risk of drought events due to global climate change would increase the threats to the plant.

The Center filed a lawsuit that successfully forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Lane Mountain milk vetch under the Endangered Species Act. In 2008 the Service recommended downlisting it from endangered to threatened, despite the fact that only four populations of the plant exist on the planet.
Large-flowered woolly meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. grandiflora)
Range: Agate Desert in southwestern Oregon’s Jackson County
Large-flowered woolly meadowfoam occurs at the edge of low-elevation vernal pools at a small number of sites in the Agate Desert in southwestern Oregon. The stems and leaves of this plant are sparsely covered with short, fuzzy plant-fur, and its flowers sport a dense coat of hairs. These hairs, called “trichomes,” help reflect the sun’s rays and limit water loss during the plant’s short spring growing period in its vernal pool surroundings. Global warming threatens vernal pool habitat in general, with changes in precipitation and higher temperatures leading to increased evaporation, higher water temperatures, and increased stress on vernal pool species, threatening local extirpations of isolated populations.

In 2002, 10 years after the Center and allies sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to list about 500 imperiled species — including the meadowfoam — the Service declared the plant endangered.
Las Vegas buckwheat (Eriogonum corymbosum var. nilesii)
Range: 15 sites in the Mojave Desert in southern Nevada
This beautiful flowering shrub grows on gypsum-rich soils in the open desert. Unfortunately, the Las Vegas buckwheat shares its habitat with one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States — Las Vegas. Because of its extremely limited distribution in such a harsh environment, the Las Vegas buckwheat is particularly vulnerable to local extirpation. Increased drought and temperatures due to global climate change could adversely affect Las Vegas buckwheat by reducing seed germination and seedling establishment, and by increasing the frequency of brush fires.

The Center’s federal petition to list the plant under the Endangered Species Act has helped call the public’s eye to the plant’s plight and profile. We’ve also filed a scientific petition to list the plant under Nevada’s Endangered Species Act.
Mexican flannelbush (Fremontodendron mexicanum)
Range: northern Baja California and southern San Diego County, California
Mexican flannelbush is so rare that fewer than 100 individual shrubs are known to exist at just two occurrences in northern Baja California and adjacent San Diego County in southwestern California, at Otay Mountain. Mexican flannelbush grows in chaparral and coniferous forests among, generally on alluvial plains. It gets its name from its leathery, furry leaves. Because of its extremely limited distribution, the Mexican flannelbush is particularly vulnerable to local extirpation. Being specific to dry chaparral and coniferous forest at the edge of urban San Diego makes the Mexican flannelbush vulnerable to increased fire threat caused by warming-driven changes in precipitation.

This species was federally listed as endangered in 1998. In 2004, the Center and the California Native Plant Society sued to seek critical habitat designation for the flannelbush and other threatened plant species.
Parish’s daisy (Erigeron parishii)
Range: Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains
Parish’s daisy is endemic to Southern California and is restricted to the dry, primarily limestone slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains. This has resulted in one of the biggest threats to its survival: limestone mining. The limestone it lives in has become valuable in recent years and many populations have been destroyed or damaged by limestone mining in its habitat. Because the Parish’s daisy is dependent on limestone, it can’t easily shift altitude to other soils to adjust to climate change. And drought, which is made more likely by global warming, urgently threatens species that already limited in population and geographic scope — like the Parish’s daisy.

In March 2000, the Center and allies filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of dozens of endangered species that had been hurt by poor land management on the California Desert Conservation Area. Including the Parish’s daisy. Thanks to a series of sweeping settlement agreements, millions of acres in the area — including Parish’s daisy habitat — were protected from destructive human impacts like mining and grazing.
Peirson’s milk vetch (Astragalus magdalenae var. peirsonii)
Range: Algodones Dunes of Imperial County, California; also the sand dunes of Gran Desierto in Sonora, Mexico
In the United States, Peirson’s milk vetch is known only from the a narrow corridor in the Algodones Dunes of Southern California, where daytime temperatures often exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit and annual precipitation rarely tops a scant 2.5 inches. With its oversized seeds and small leaves, Peirson’s milk vetch is well adapted for survival in the harsh conditions of blowing sand dunes. Large seeds ensure that germinated seedlings have enough nutrients to establish and survive, while small leaves conserve moisture in the dry desert heat. Although off-road vehicles are the primary threat to this plant, climate change and its potential for increased drought cycles are a significant concern. Consecutive years of drought can lead to low reproduction that could outlast the longevity of the seedbank, meaning that the affected populations could die out completely.

In 2000, the Center won a landmark legal settlement closing 48,000 acres of the Algodones Dunes to off-road vehicles. Unfortunately, in 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service drastically cut the species’ federally protected habitat — so the Center filed suit.
Pitcher’s thistle (Cirsium pitcher)
Range: Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin
Pitcher’s thistle is endemic to the unforested dune systems on the shores of the western Great Lakes. There are 173 known occurrences found in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. This plant is a perennial herb that grows for five to eight years before sending up a once-in-a-lifetime pink or creamy white flower atop a three-foot stalk. Pitcher’s thistle requires active sand dunes to grow; residential development, road construction, and off-road vehicles have destroyed much of its habitat. The plant was listed as threatened in 1988.

Limited populations make the pitcher’s thistle particularly vulnerable to disturbance and stochastic events such as drought. Global warming threatens the pitcher’s thistle through changing rain patterns that can increase the likelihood of drought, as well as causing higher temperatures that may increase water needs during the plant’s bloom and throughout the year.
Quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma)
A species of aloe indigenous to Namibia and South Africa — specifically the northern Cape region — the quiver tree is also called the kokerboom, and Southern Africa’s indigenous San people refer to it as choje. This species gets its name from the San practice of hollowing out the plant’s tubular branches to form quivers for arrows.

Field surveys have already shown declines in this species due to climate change. Documented quiver tree mortality was much higher on warmer, lower-elevation slopes than on higher ones. Moreover, trees located in hotter northern parts of South Africa were found to be struggling to survive in drought conditions. These trees, like many other unique South African plants, will need to migrate to areas with cooler conditions in order to survive the rapid rise in temperatures accompanying climate change. And of course, for plants, fast migration is no easy task.
Ramshaw Meadows sand verbena (Abronia alpina)
Range: Ramshaw and Templeton meadows on Kern Plateau of California’s Sierra Nevada
Ramshaw Meadows sand verbena is a small, deeply rooted perennial in the four o'clock family known from just two populations — one in Ramshaw Meadow in the Sierra Nevada and one subpopulation in adjacent Templeton Meadow. The total estimated area this plant populates is just more than 15 acres.

Due to its extremely limited range, random events associated with a highly variable climate can pose a serious threat to the Ramshaw Meadows sand verbena. Moreover, this plant is slow to recover because it has limited reproductive and seed dispersal abilities, a short life span, and high annual fluctuation in population numbers.
Robbins cinquefoil (Potentilla robbinsiana)
Range: White Mountains Presidential Range of New Hampshire
The rare Robbins’ cinquefoil was once truly on the brink of extinction. A member of the rose family, Robbins’ cinquefoil — which is also called the dwarf cinquefoil — occurs only in the alpine zone of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. It was heavily impacted by plant collectors and hikers along the Appalachian Trail, and when the plant received Endangered Species Act protection in 1980, only 3,700 specimens were known to exist. After intensive recovery efforts, in 2002 the population totaled more than 14,000 plants — but once again it’s threatened, and this time by global warming.

The Robbin’s cinquefoil has very special habitat requirements: It relies on freeze-thaw cycles that eliminate other plants trying to compete with it. Changes in these freeze-thaw cycles caused by global warming could eliminate this plant’s chances to thrive.
Rough rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica strigillata)
Range: Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia
Not a rabbit — not even a mammal — rough rabbitsfoot is a river-dwelling mussel that was listed as endangered in 1997. Coal-mining, toxic chemical spills, and poor land management practices have destroyed most of its habitat. Isolated populations remain in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Increasing drought conditions due to climate change, in conjunction with water withdrawals, threaten water flow in the mussels’ remaining river habitat.
San Bernardino bluegrass (Poa atropurpurea)
Range: San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California
A rather innocuous, nonflowering grass, the San Bernardino bluegrass is a native component of a remaining Southern California high mountain meadow system — known from just 20 occurrences. Because of its extremely limited distribution, this plant is particularly vulnerable to extinction. Changes in precipitation and increased temperatures due to climate change threaten the hydrology and water tables on which the bluegrass depends, and the meadow system is very vulnerable to increased risk of fire.

This species was listed as endangered 1998. In 2004, the Center filed suit to compel the Bush administration to designate critical habitat for the plant; in response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed protecting more than 3,000 acres of bluegrass habitat — but its final decision in 2008 slashed 500 acres from that number.
San Diego ambrosia (Ambrosia pumila)
Range: San Diego and Riverside counties in Southern California, Baja California, Mexico
A rare perennial herb in the sunflower family, San Diego ambrosia is found in dry, sandy soils and creek beds at just 15 low-elevation sites in southwestern California. Because of its extremely limited distribution, the San Diego ambrosia is particularly vulnerable to local extirpation. Many populations are threatened by increased risk of fire due to global warming, as well as to competition with invasive plants that thrive after fire disturbance and may expand under high-temperature conditions. Changes in precipitation and increased heat due to climate change can increase the stress on the ambrosia and change the hydrology of the streams where it grows.

Earning federal protection for the San Diego ambrosia required two petitions and two Center lawsuits. In 2007, we sued to force critical habitat designation, compelling the designation of 802 protected acres — unfortunately not enough for the plant to recover.
San Francisco lessingia (Lessingia germanorum)
San Francisco lessingia is a low-growing, slender-stemmed annual flower in the sunflower family. It once occurred throughout San Francisco's vast dune system, where it grew in open, sandy areas that were created and maintained by a combination of dune “blowouts,” elk grazing, fire, and drought. Specific to the sandy soils of coastal dunes, this plant is now found at only seven sites in the San Francisco area. San Francisco lessingia is so rare today that a single random, catastrophic event could easily destroy most of the remaining individuals. Thus, its location along the coast makes it vulnerable to both sea-level rise and the increase in storms due to climate change.

In 1997, the Center notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that we’d sue the agency if it did not list 95 western species that had been proposed for federal protection but were languishing without a final decision. The San Francisco lessingia was listed as endangered that same year.
San Jacinto Valley crownscale (Atriplex coronata notatior)
Range: Western Riverside County, California
An unassuming small, scrubby plant, the San Jacinto crownscale is remarkable for its ability to convert soil salts into a kind of botanical sequin that causes the crownscale to shimmer in the sun. This plant is restricted to 11 populations in two drainage systems in Southern California, found on highly alkaline soils in low-elevation grasslands and scrub typically flooded by winter rains. Because of its extremely limited distribution, the crownscale is very vulnerable to local extirpations. Changes in precipitation and increased temperatures due to climate change threaten both to alter the plant communities with which the crownscale in associated, and to increase seasonal stresses on the crownscale.

Since the San Jacinto Valley crownscale was added to the endangered species list in 1998, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to designate critical habitat for the plant or implement a recovery plan — even after a Center lawsuit. In October 2008, we sued again to earn needed habitat for the downtrodden plant.
Seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus)
Range: U.S. Atlantic Coast barrier islands
Seabeach amaranth is restricted to the barrier island beaches of the U.S. Atlantic Coast. There are currently only 55 known populations — the plant has been eliminated from two-thirds of its historic range. Numerous shorebirds, including the endangered piping plover, nest in amaranth stands. Beachfront development, off-road vehicles, and hurricanes have degraded amaranth populations.

Since being federally protected as threatened in 1993, seabeach amaranth is making a tenuous comeback. However, its dependence on beach habitat and the small number of its populations make this species vulnerable to catastrophic events; sea-level rise and increased storms due to climate change threaten the beach sites where it grows.
Showy stickseed (Hackelia venusta)
Range: Washington
This beautiful plant is the rarest in Washington state. It’s found at only one site — on a slope near a major highway — and nowhere else in the world. Moreover, the slope the showy stickseed is restricted to is susceptible to landslides. Despite the rough circumstances, the showy stickseed bursts into bloom with a splashy display of large, showy white flowers.

Fire suppression has hurt this plant’s population by allowing trees and shrubs to flourish, causing shading and crowding of the showy stickseed. Changes in fire intensity due to climate change could further threaten the species. A hot fire will damage the root of the plant, leading to plant death, whereas a cooler fire would only damage the aboveground portions of the plant, allowing it to grow back. Large, hot fires could also increase the likelihood of a major landslide by destroying the root structure of the plants that stabilize the soil.
Solano grass (Tuctoria mucronata)
Range: California
Solano grass is a small annual in the grass family that produces stems and leaves covered with small droplets of sticky, acrid secretion which is characteristic of its genus, Tuctoria. This species blooms from April to July. It’s restricted to alkaline vernal pool ecosystems that have sodium or boron salt affected soils or similar salt affected areas in alkaline playas. Seeds germinate in the very shallow pools as they dry in late spring. Solano grass was last seen in its original location — Olcott Lake, California — in 1993, when four individual plants were present. In 2000, several thousand plants were found on a former U.S. Air Force base communication facility.

Because global warming threatens to dry the vernal pools Solano grass needs to survive, this plant is threatened by climate change.
Spalding’s catchfly (Silene spaldingii)
Range: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana
A leafy, perennial flower in the carnation family, Spalding's catchfly grows on low- to mid-elevation grasslands of the Palouse Prairie and adjacent areas in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. There are currently 99 known populations, with two-thirds of these composed of fewer than 100 individuals each. Agricultural and urban development, off-road vehicle use and competition from nonnative plants have all contributed to its decline. Climate change exacerbates conditions for the spread of invasive plants and increases the intensity and frequency of fire, all major threats to the Spalding’s catchfly.

In 2001, the Center won a threatened listing for the Spalding’s catchfly, and we’ve since been working to reduce pesticide impacts on this sensitive plant.
Uhiuhi (Caesalpinia kavaiensis)
Range: Kaua’I, O’ahu, and Hawaii islands
The Uhiuhi is tree endemic to Hawaiian forests at elevations of 250 to almost 3,000 feet. There are only three populations known to exist, on Kaua’I, O’ahu, and Hawaii. The uhiuhi is a tree that can grow to more than 30 feet tall. The uhiuhi tree once provided native Hawaiians with wood for fishing spears. Abundant in the past, only 32 trees remain, the rest wiped out by cattle grazing, fires, and exotic plants, insects, and rodents.

Global warming could increase the incidence of forest fires that threaten the uhiuhi, and temperature increases may exacerbate insect infestations.
Willowy monardella (Monardella linoides)
Range: Coastal Southern California, concentrated in Miramar area of San Diego County
The willowy monardella makes its home in the chaparral and coastal sage scrub found in sandy, dry washes of coastal Southern California. There are only 11 known populations. This perennial flower in the mint family is known for its light pink to lavender flowers, which bloom as late in the season as November. Willowy monardella is besieged by urban development, mining activity, and erosion. It’s uncertain how climate change may affect the flood patterns, stream flows, and water tables on which willowy monardello depends, and almost every population is vulnerable to the increased risk of fire in the coastal chaparral.

The willowy monardella was listed as endangered 1998. The Center is currently involved in a legal challenge to expand the plant’s inadequate critical habitat designation — an expansion the species sorely needs.