Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule (pdf) protecting three flowers under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The three flowers — the Short’s bladderpod (Physaria globosa), fleshy-fruit gladecress (Leavenworthia crassa), and whorled sunflower (Helianthus verticillatus) — are found in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
According to the Service, whorled sunflowers are primarily threatened by industrial forestry and pine plantations. The flowers grow to be six feet tall and live in moist, prairie-like areas, woodlands, and adjacent to creeks.
Fleshy-fruit gladecress is part of the mustard family, with orange, yellow or white flowers. It grows in open, sunny, cedar glades. According to the Service, the flower is threatened by livestock grazing, residential and industrial development, agriculture, off-road vehicles, and dumping.
Short’s bladderpod is also part of the mustard family, and is found near rivers on steep, rocky, wooded slopes. The Service’s final rule states that the species is threatened by transportation construction and maintenance, flooding and water-level fluctuation, and competition with nonnative plant species.
Environmental groups petitioned to have the species listed under the ESA in 2004. The final rule is a part of a 2011 settlement requiring the Service to make listing decisions regarding 757 species by 2018.