Conservation and Biodiversity
An illustrated tribute to most endangered plant in every US state
January 29, 2020
People who call climate activists “prophets of doom” are dead wrong: Climate change is here and now. It’s already endangering the lives of people (disproportionately, the poor) and wiping countless species of plants and animals from the planet. The so-called “prophets of doom” are talking about today’s problems.
These activists don’t focus on doom. Rather, 17-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, those who have inspired her, and those she inspires, talk about salvation. Their focus is what it takes to limit the impacts of climate change. This means consciously valuing — even celebrating — life, in all its forms.
With that in mind, a team of researchers and artists at NetCredit and NeoMam Studios created An Illustrated Tribute to the Most Endangered Plant in Every U.S. State, celebrating plants on the brink of extinction and raising awareness through visualization. It is a work both joyful and troubling for the fragile status of these plants.
For example, Virginia’s beautifully tragic representative is the streambank bittercress, also called the small-anthered bittercress, a reclusive member of the mustard family. After its “discovery” in 1939, the streambank appeared to go extinct in the U.S. within a few decades. It has since been spotted again, and is considered “imperiled” in Virginia and “critically imperiled” in North Carolina.
The streambank bittercress faces destruction and degradation from all angles, including erosion and sedimentation, livestock trampling, impoundments — from both humans and beavers — and competition from invasive plant species, most notably the Japanese honeysuckle.
The resource is full of enchanting plants like Virginia’s bittercress, but also includes hardened plants like Maryland’s barbedbristle bulrush. This plant looks tough, thanks to the barbs and bristles that give it its name, but also can’t survive dangers like off-road vehicles and water pollution.
For a bittersweet look at America’s troubled flora, check out the full roster of the most endangered plants in each state. To save life on this planet, we need to understand it — and inspire the politicians who have the power to make significant changes to environmental protections.
Image credit at top: NetCredit.