Did you ever notice that when it comes to spreading awareness about endangered species, animals get the lion’s share of the attention? Most anyone can easily rattle off five threatened animal species…but can you name a plant species in need of protection?
My 5-year old can. Armed with knowledgement about his current obsession, carnivorous plants, he informed me that his favorite plant (the oh-so-amazing Venus flytrap) was a threatened species and needed our protection. He’s right. As I learned more, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of species in need.
According to the Encyclopedia of Earth, over 8,000 plant species worldwide are officially threatened or endangered – and that number grows daily. Between one-fourth and one-half of all plants are at some risk. In the United States alone, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists 795 plant species as threatened or endangered. A disturbing matter because plants provide essential, life sustaining ecosystems with oxygen, food, medicines, building materials, textiles and habitats. Not to mention their beauty.
Just as it would be deplorable and tragic if, say, chimpanzees became extinct during our lifetime (a loss that is a real possibility, researchers warn), our world wouldn’t be the same without species like the black bat flower, monkey puzzle tree…or the Venus Flytrap.
My carnivorous plant-loving son with his purple pitcher plant, another threatened species.
Want to become famiiar with endangered plants in your area? Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Threatened and Endangered List and select your state.