Threatened and Endangered Plants

Protecting Florida’s native plants

Small green weedy looking false rosemary has tiny orchid like lavender flowers
Etonia false rosemary (Conradina etonia), unknown to science until the 1990s,
occurs in small populations in a few scrub habitats in Putnam County.
Florida Museum of Natural History.

Most of us are aware of the plight of Florida’s threatened and endangered animals, like manatees and panthers. But did you know that hundreds of our native plants are also in danger of extinction?

Anyone who has read “The Orchid Thief” will understand the seductive power of rare plants. In the book, the lead character is obsessed with finding the elusive ghost orchid that’s native to the Everglades. Not all native plants are as endangered as the ghost orchid, though Florida does have more endangered plants than any state except California.

Rapid development and invasive exotics threaten many of the state’s diverse and unique plants. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services keeps a list of these species, which include natives like the ghost orchid, pitcher plant, and wild columbine.

You can help protect threatened and endangered species by being a responsible gardener. Don’t destroy wetlands on your property or introduce invasive exotics into your landscape. Consider taking part in an invasive plant clean-up to help make sure our native plants have a home.

Under Florida’s Plant Protection Law, it’s illegal to dig up or destroy any of the 600 plants on the regulated plant list, unless you have the appropriate permits and permissions. And even unprotected species can suffer when wild populations are overcollected.

So if you’re interested in growing native plants in your landscape, don’t remove them from the wild. Instead, purchase your plants from a reputable nursery or plant sale.

UF/IFAS Publications

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