Rare Plants in the News

Posted on: By: Erika

2023 Rare Plant Technical Council to Reconvene at ABQ BioPark!

Join us for the 2023 NM Rare Plant Technical Council Meeting on November 13th at ABQBioPark to discuss a coordinated approach to managing, researching, and conserving New Mexico's rare and endangered plants but also addressing issues that are impacting rare species in the state. We will also review a list of species to be added or deleted from the current New Mexico Rare Plant Conservation Strategy list, new discoveries, new genetics research and more. Join the NM Rare Plant Discussion Group to be alerted when a more detailed agenda is released. Contact erika.rowe@emnrd.nm.gov for more information or to RSVP. 


The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Forestry Division recently amended our Endangered Plant Rule

A rule governing the removal of rare and endangered plants, 19.21.2 NMAC, in the state has been amended to help curb the decline of rare plant populations. The previous rule only prohibited “removal of endangered plants with the intent to possess, transport, export, sell, or offer for sale.” Now, the word “take” has been more clearly defined to be “destroy/remove/harm.” 

This amended rule further authorizes the Energy Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Forestry Division to prohibit the taking, possession, transportation, exportation from the state, processing, sale or offer for sale, or shipment of listed plants or plant materials, except for permitted scientific purposes or propagation and transplantation activities that enhance the survival of endangered species. In cases where removal of these species is unavoidable, the amendment has created an “incidental take” permitting system. 

The new rule went into effect on April 25, 2023, and applies to plants on state, subdivisions of the state, federal and private lands in New Mexico. An exemption for tribal members who use rare plants for religious purposes or activities on tribal trust or restricted fee land or individual trust allotments remains in place.

An application can be downloaded from the Forestry Division website, Request a Permit - Forestry (nm.gov) as well as review a list of frequently asked questions and other application forms for Scientific Study, Propagation, and Voucher Collection permits.


Proposed Rule Change will Strengthen Endangered Plant Protection in New Mexico

The Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD), Forestry Division, gives notice that it is proposing to amend 19.21.2 NMAC, Endangered Plant Species List and Collection Permits.  EMNRD proposes the amendments to add the American Hart’s tongue fern, Asplenium scolopendrium var. americanum, to the list of state endangered plant species; amend the definition of ‘take’ to include harm, kill, and destroy except for incidental removal, harm, killing, or destruction resulting from agricultural practices or tribal members use for religious purposes; establish an incidental take permit process; amend the definition of state forester; add definitions of “agricultural practice”, “applicant”, “endangered plant”, “harm”, “permittee”, “person”, and “tribal member”; amend the provisions regarding scientific study and propagation permits for state endangered plants; establish requirements for permit amendment; amend requirements for permit approval and revocation; establish a permit term; and amend the provisions regarding penalties. 

A public hearing is scheduled for November 10, 2021, at 9 AM via WebEx. Those wishing to comment on the proposed rule amendment may make oral or written comments, or submit information at the hearing or may submit written comments by November 10, 2021, by 9 AM by mail or email.  Contact information, the Notice, and proposed rule change can be found at  https://www.emnrd.nm.gov/sfd/public-meetings/


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to take a closer look at two rare plants found only in northwestern New Mexico to see if they warrant protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announced 90-day findings on two petitions to add species to the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants under the Endangered Species Act. Based on a review of the petitions, the Service found that the petitions presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted. Therefore, the Service is planning to initiate status reviews of Aztec gilia (Aliciella formosa) and Clover's cactus (Sclerocactus cloverae) to determine whether the petitioned actions are warranted. To ensure that the status reviews are comprehensive, the Service is requesting scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the species and factors that may affect their status. Based on the status reviews, they will issue 12-month petition findings, which will address whether or not the petitioned actions are warranted.

The agency’s decision to review the Aztec gilia and Clover’s cactus was announced on 5/11/2021, after being petitioned by environmentalists nearly a year ago.


Draft Recovery Plan for the Kuenzler Hedgehog Cactus Available for Review and Comment 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing the availability of a draft recovery plan for the threatened Kuenzler hedgehog cactus, a small desert plant found in the northern and southern Sacramento mountains in Lincoln County, New Mexico, and the Guadalupe mountains in Eddy County, New Mexico. The draft recovery plan identifies actions that will guide recovery of the plant to the point at which protection under the ESA is no longer needed. 

The Service encourages the public to comment on the draft recovery plan, which will be available here on May 10, 2021. The public will have 60 days to comment on the draft recovery plan. Public comments will be accepted through July 9, 2021.  


Arizona eryngo (Eryngium sparganophyllum) proposed for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act

The FWS is proposing to list the Arizona eryngo (Eryngium sparganophyllum), a wetland plant, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and designate 13 acres of critical habitat at 3 locations: east of Tucson (La Cebadilla and Agua Caliente Regional Park) and east of Sierra Vista (Lewis Springs).  We seek public input to consider for the decision. 

The proposal will publish in the Federal Register this Thursday, March 4, and appear at: <http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/html/FR/todays_toc.html>. The public comment period ends May 3, 2021. The document will be placed on public inspection tomorrow, Wednesday, March 3 at 8:45 ET and is available at:<https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection>. The Docket Number is FWS–R2–ES–2020–013.  After publication, links to documents can be found at: <http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/browse/collection.action?collectionCode=FR>.

For more information on this plant, the critical habitat proposal, draft economic analysis, and how to submit comments, you may also visit AESO's website at: <https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/> starting March 4.  If you have any questions about this proposal, please contact me at Erin_Fernandez@fws.gov.


ESA Listing and Critical Habitat Proposed for Rare Marsh Plant Found Only in New Mexico - Cirsium wrightii

Following a rigorous review of the best available science, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal to list Wright’s marsh thistle (Cirsium wrightii) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The public may comment on the proposal for the next 60 days.   

The Service is proposing eight units of critical habitat totaling 159 acres in in Chaves, Eddy, Guadalupe, Otero and Socorro counties in New Mexico. The majority of the proposed units overlap with existing critical habitat for 10 other listed species. The Service does not anticipate direct impacts from the proposed rule to stakeholders or industry.  

Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership, establish a refuge or preserve, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.  

After a review of the best available scientific and commercial information, the Service determined the Wright’s marsh thistle is at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future due to the scarcity, small size and isolation of its remaining populations. Additional threats to the species include decreased water availability, competition with native and non-native plants, cattle grazing and effects from oil and gas development.  

The proposal was published in the Federal Register on September 29, 2020 and public comments will be accepted until November 30, 2020. The proposed rule and supporting documents are available for comment online at regulations.gov under docket number FWS–R2–ES–2018–0071. We encourage the public, academia, federal and state agencies, industry and other stakeholders to review the proposal and provide comments. A final decision to list or withdraw the proposal is typically made within a year after the proposal. 


New Mexico Lists 10 New Plant Species Endangered

On July 9, 2020, the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) Cabinet Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst approved an amendment to the New Mexico Endangered Plant Species List and Collection Permits rule (19.21.2 NMAC), which adds 10 plant species to the state endangered plant list. The rule prohibits protected endangered plant species from being collected, removed, transported, exported, processed for sale, or offered for sale unless issued a valid permit for specific scientific purposes by the state forester. See attached documentation below.

The Endangered Plant Program of the State Forestry Division has posted all of their rare and endangered plant survey and monitoring reports on the State Forestry website, available for download at http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SFD/ForestMgt/endangeredandrareplantreports.html


CPC Best Plant Conservation Practices to Support Species Survival in the Wild.

The Center for Plant Conservation is pleased to announce the publication of CPC Best Plant Conservation Practices to Support Species Survival in the Wild. For the first time we have consolidated our guidelines to cover plant conservation practice from soup to nuts. We urge practitioners to review the new guidelines that reflect updated knowledge about best scientific practice.



Center for Plant Conservation Rare Plant Academy

The CPC Rare Plant Academy is a hub of learning, sharing, and discovery for the plant conservation community. CPC Rare Plant Academy brings the Center for Plant Conservation Best Practices to life by integrating instructional videos and community discourse with web-based interactive guidelines for plant conservation methods. This platform seeks to answer plant conservation’s most challenging “how to’s” by capturing the knowledge of Center for Plant Conservation’s network of expert botanists in modern, learning-friendly formats. As such, CPC Rare Plant Academy will be a training ground for the next generation of plant conservation scientists, who will be the first line of defense against plant extinction.



New threatened plant species reported from New Mexico! 

American Hart's-tongue fern, Asplenium scolopendrium var. americanum, was discovered at the El Malpais National Monument, at the entrance of a cave.

According to John Wiley, USFWS, NY,  "The population is about 66 individuals down in a 20 ft roughly circular lava bubble with a person-sized opening at the top. Or initial impressions are that the gametophyte looks very North American but there are some interesting morphological variations of the sporophytes that suggest it *could be* something a little different. In particular some of the bases of the fronds are more hastate than auriculate, but this is not consistent across all of the plants. The common sori 1/2 down the frond, that seems to be a poor character, is also variable here, with a few approaching 2/3. Weston Testo from University of Florida will be sequencing the samples to compare against americanum, lindenii, among others. "

Initial identification was confirmed by species specialists in New Mexico.  Hence, until further notice, we will consider this discovery as Asplenium scolopendrium var. americanum, a federally listed threatened species, otherwise only known from Alabama, Michigan, New York, Tennessee, and Canada.

in 2020 the USFWS completed a review of the status of the American hart's-tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium var. americanum) and concluded that the AHTF no longer meets the definition of threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The USFWS recommended removing this species from the list of federally threatened and endangered species due to recovery. The Service will be issuing a draft rule for public comment in April 2021.

More information can be found at: