Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 7, 2023


Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017,

Rare New Mexico Plant Proposed for Endangered Species Protections

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Following a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect the swale paintbrush as an endangered species. The 19-inch-tall, yellowish-reddish flower is known to exist in only a single location in southwestern New Mexico’s bootheel.

“This is great news for these graceful, stately plants and for everyone who cares about the natural world,” said Michael Robinson, senior conservation advocate at the Center. “The Endangered Species Act has prevented the extinction of so many other plant and animal species. In this instance, the law will help save a unique flower that’s part of what makes the Southwest not only botanically interesting but also beautiful.”

The swale paintbrush once lived in another location in the bootheel and in 11 spots in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Durango. But there is no information that it survives in these previously identified habitats. It was last confirmed in Mexico in 1985.

In addition to its extremely limited known distribution, the swale paintbrush is imperiled by drought from global warming and from potential trampling by livestock.

Once protections are finalized the Service will develop a recovery plan for the plants. That plan will likely call for reintroducing the swale paintbrush to other habitats to ensure the species survives in case its current known population is wiped out.

RSSwale_paintbrush-Mark Egger_WTU_Herbarium
Swale paintbrush photo by Mark Egger, WTU Herbarium. Image is available for media use.

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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