First placed on the candidate list: 1990
Years waiting for protection: 14
Range: Colorado
Habitat: rocky cliffs

The Parachute beardtongue is a perennial herb that grows on rocky cliffs above the Colorado River near the town of Parachute, Colorado. It occupies just two locations of less than one-third of a square mile. The beardtongue has been listed as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act since 1990. Although the threats to this plant have increased, it is still waiting for endangered species protection.

The Parachute beardtongue is a mat-forming perennial herb with thick, bluish leaves and funnel-shaped, pale lavender flowers. Both populations are on lands slated for oil shale mining – not a coincidence, since the beardtongue has evolved to take advantage of the rocky surfaces that overlay deposits of this geologic phenomenon. Its specialized evolutionary advantage in thriving in this unique environment would doom it, in the absence of protection, when oil companies begin excavating the cliffs. Threats to this plant are even more acute today because the current Administration has instructed federal agencies to expedite planning for energy development.

graphic Andrew Rodman ©2002
May 3, 2004
Go back