Native plants face many of the same threats to their survival that are faced by threatened and endangered animals. Deforestation, habitat loss, invasive species and over-harvesting are among the factors that are pushing more plants toward the brink of extinction. While the future is uncertain for many species, for some there is no future. Thousands of species of plants have already crossed the line. No more of their species are found in the wild, if their species exists at all. A brief sampling of some of the flowering plants that have disappeared from planet Earth shows that the loss of flora is occurring worldwide.
Cosmos atrosanguineus, commonly called chocolate cosmos, is a type of daisy that was native to Mexico. The chocolate cosmos is extinct in the wild. In cultivation, there is one clone surviving. The chocolate cosmos reached heights of 40 to 60 cm and produced flowers of dark red with a chocolate-like fragrance.
Among the flowering plants that have disappeared from Britain are three species of protea---the mace pagoda, Wynberg conebush and diminutive powderpuff. These species had limited populations at the time of their discovery and ensuing development and habitat loss are likely the culprits that caused their extinction.
Euphorbia mayurnathanii was a flowering plant of India that is now extinct in the wild. The plant was first described in 1940 when it was found growing on a rocky ledge. The Euphorbia mayurnathanii does survive as a cultivated species.
Lysimachia minoricensis was found in Spain. Habitat loss is blamed for its extinction in the wild. Found in only one location in the country, it disappeared from the wild sometime between 1926 and 1950. It does survive as a cultivated species, and attempts have been made to reintroduce it to the wild.
Acalypha rubrinervis, the St. Helena mountain bush, was a member of the string tree family, producing textured and colorful flowers. Found on Saint Helena island in the South Atlantic Ocean, the Acalypha rubrinervis disappeared from the island as human populations increased.
Valerianella affinis, an annual that grew on dry hill slopes, was only seen at a single site in 19th Century Yemen. A dried specimen is all that seems to remain of this extinct plant, though investigation into its status continues.
The Cry violet or Cry pansy, scientifically named Viola cryana, was a native of France that is now extinct. Habitat destruction in the quarrying of limestone and over-collection by collectors drove the plant to extinction in the wild in 1930, and it was no longer available in cultivation by 1950.
About the Author
Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.
Björn Appel: wikipedia.org