Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 13, 2022


Elise Bennett, (727) 755-6950,

Eight South Florida Plants Get Proposal for Critical Habitat Protection

Plants Threatened by Sea-Level Rise, Development

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— In response to litigation filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed today to protect more than 570,000 acres of habitat for eight imperiled Florida plants. All eight plants can be found in the few remaining pockets of pine rockland habitats, which have been reduced by at least 98%.

“These beautiful plants are part of what makes South Florida so special,” said Elise Bennett, Florida director at the Center. “They only grow here, and protecting the places these rare plants live will go a long way toward helping them recover.”

The Service proposed to protect 179,680 acres for the Everglades bully, 177,879 acres for the Florida pineland crabgrass, 8,867 acres for the pineland sandmat, and 179,300 acres for the Florida prairie clover in Monroe, Collier and Miami-Dade counties.

In a separate decision, the Service also proposed to protect 1,462 acres for the Big Pine partridge pea and 1,379 acres for the wedge spurge in Monroe County, as well as 5,090 acres for the sand flax, and 16,635 acres for the Blodgett’s silverbush in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

The Endangered Species Act prohibits federal agencies from authorizing activities that will destroy or harm a listed species’ critical habitat. Species with federally protected critical habitat are more than twice as likely to be recovering as species without it.

“Habitat loss is the greatest cause of extinctions,” said Bennett. “So taking this step to safeguard the pine rockland where these incredibly rare plants live is really important.”

Species Highlights

Big Pine partridge pea: The Big Pine partridge pea is a small shrub with five-petal, yellow flowers and pea-shaped fruit. It is found only in the pine rocklands of the lower Florida Keys. It used to live in Big Pine Key, No Name Key, Ramrod Key, Cudjoe Key and Sugarloaf Key, but the plant is now only found on Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key.

Blodgett’s silverbush: The Blodgett’s silverbush is a woody shrub with small, green flowers. It grows in the pine rocklands of Monroe and Miami-Dade counties but has become increasingly rare.

Everglades bully: The Everglades bully had been a candidate for protection since 2004. The shrub is native to Miami-Dade County and is only found in pine rocklands.

Florida pineland crabgrass: The Florida pineland crabgrass is also known as Everglades grass or twospike crabgrass. It only occurs in the Everglades in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. It was first identified as needing endangered species protection in 1975. The Center petitioned the Service to protect it in 2004.

Florida prairie clover: The Florida prairie clover had been waiting on the Service’s candidate list for federal protection since 1999. It’s a member of the pea family and grows up to 6 feet tall in pine rocklands and coastal uplands.

Pinelands sandmat: The Pinelands sandmat had been a candidate for protection since 1999. Also known as the pineland deltoid spurge, rockland spurge and wedge sandmat, it’s a beautiful perennial herb with a red stem and delicate, yellow flowers.

Sand flax: The sand flax is a small, perennial herb with yellow, buttercup-looking flowers. It is found in pine rocklands in Monroe and Miami-Dade counties, and its populations are declining.

Wedge spurge: The wedge spurge is a small, perennial herb with slender stems and a silvery appearance. It occurs in pine rocklands and roadsides on Big Pine Key, where its population is declining.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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