For Immediate Release, June 23, 2021

Contact:

Tamara Strobel, (202) 731-4323, tstrobel@biologicaldiversity.org

Smooth Coneflower Recovering, Proposed for Downlisting

Endangered Species Act Saved Rare Flower Found in Virginia, Georgia, Carolinas

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed downlisting the smooth coneflower from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The proposal is based on increased occurrences of the flower and the growing number of populations in protected areas.

“Without the Endangered Species Act’s protection, this lovely, sun-loving flower would have been yet another species driven to extinction,” said Tamara Strobel, a staff scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The road to recovery for the smooth coneflower is still filled with challenges, but I’m hopeful we’ll see this pink beauty thrive again across its historic range.”

The smooth coneflower, named for its smooth stem and drooping pink petals, is only found in small pockets of open sunny areas with minimal plant competition in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. It is dependent on insect pollinators such as bees, skippers and butterflies, as well as birds and mammals that disperse its seeds.

The coneflower lost much of its habitat to highway construction, tree plantations, development and roadside maintenance. When the Service listed the smooth coneflower as endangered in 1992, there were only 21 surviving populations. Today there are 44, including many on federal lands or private conservation areas.

The coneflower remains vulnerable to habitat loss from fire suppression measures and herbicides. According to the Service, the plant will likely require permanent habitat management to maintain the open meadows the species needs to survive.

smooth_coneflower_Echinacea_laevigata_Caroline_S_Krom_ USFWS_FPWC_Media_Use_Ok.jpg
Smooth coneflower. Photo courtesy of Caroline S. Krom, USFWS. 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.