Many flowers remain on the United States' endangered species list because of disappearing habitat. As woods get cut down and prairies turn into housing developments, more species may become endangered or even extinct. People can help protect these flowers by stepping back and not gathering seeds or cuttings for use in the garden, advises the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation. Instead, identifying and simply observing the flowers is a great way to help protect these beauties.
Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium van-bruntiae Britt)
Named for the way its 15 to 21 narrow leaflets arrange themselves on the stem, Jacob's ladder still grows in a few states including Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. The plant remains on the endangered species list since destruction of wetlands and collection of the plant by gardeners keep adding to the problem. Botanists thought the plant was extinct in Pennsylvania, but in 1986, a population of about 150 plants was discovered. The leaflets grow on stems reaching 2 feet in height. Purple flowers that dangle on the end of the stems appear in June and July. Jacob's ladder grows in acidic soils in open, mountainous areas.
Large-Flowered Marshallia (Marshallia grandiflora)
The large but delicate-looking flowers of the marshallia plant only exist in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. The plant features large, thick leaves and long stems reaching up to 3 feet high. They are topped by pink or lavender tubular flowers that bloom in June and July. The plant grows in the crevices of previously flooded rock beds or sand banks along rivers. In Pennsylvania, the plant only grows along the Youghiogheny River. Dam construction or other river projects and recreational uses could destroy the plants forever. The plant formerly was found in Maryland and North Carolina, but is now extinct in those states.
Schweinitz's Sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii)
The bright yellow flowers of Schweinitz's sunflower only exist in a few spots in North and South Carolina. The flowers grow in clearings and on the edges of woods in soil that easily erodes, such as sandy or dry clay with high gravel content. The sunflower grows up to 6 feet tall, sporting leaves that feel rough to the touch. Yellow flowers appear in late August and continue to bloom until the first frost.
Georgia Aster (Symphyotrichum georgianum)
Two-inch wide violet-colored blooms make this fall-blooming plant a showstopper in the few locations in which it still grows. The bright purple flowers of the Georgia aster now exist in only four southern states-Georgia, Alabama and North and South Carolina. The plant used to grow in Florida, but now is extinct in that state. Georgia aster reaches 39 inches in height with 3-inch long leaves. It grows in dry open areas. The plant reproduces by multiplying rhizomes instead of spreading by seed.