Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 12, 2023

Contact:

Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017, michaelr@biologicaldiversity.org

Rare Texas Plant Proposed For Endangered Species Protections

HOUSTON— Following a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed protecting the Navasota false foxglove as an endangered species. The three-foot-tall, purplish-pink wildflowers are known to exist in just three locations on 1.9 acres spread across east Texas, areas the Service proposed to protect as critical habitat.

“Wildflower lovers can rejoice that the Navasota false foxglove will get a recovery plan and critical habitat thanks to the Endangered Species Act, which turns 50 this year,” said Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate at the Center. “These unique plants are part of what make the Lone Star State so beautiful. Conserving them is in the grand tradition of Lady Bird Johnson, who helped spur preservation of Texas wildflowers.”

The Navasota false foxglove is imperiled due to its limited distribution, including one area in Tyler County that is separated from the other two populations in Grimes County by more than 100 miles. The wildflowers are also threatened by drought from global warming, encroachment from trees that shade out the direct sun that they require, and potential disturbances including trampling from livestock, road widening and development.

Placing the Navasota false foxglove on the endangered species list will add federal penalties for any violations of state or local laws, such as trespassing, that destroy the plants. One of the three populations is on land managed for conservation.

Critical habitat designation identifies places important to the plant and prohibits use of federal funds for projects that would harm or destroy those habitats. Some of the wildflowers are found on a road right-of-way under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Transportation.

The Navasota false foxglove was first identified in 1993 and is similar to but genetically distinct from the Caddo false foxglove, which once grew in Louisiana but is now presumed to be extinct. The plants grow in shallow and sandy soils and parasitize the roots of adjoining bluestem grasses. They require annual rainfall and direct sunlight.

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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