What are the Most Common Endangered Plants?

Anna T.

Some of the world's most endangered plants are the rafflesia flower, the green pitcher plant, and the hart's tongue fern. There are many other endangered plants and trees apart from these that need to be conserved. Most endangered plants become that way because of deforestation and general habitat deconstruction, which typically occurs when forests are leveled to make way for homes and businesses. Conservation efforts to save these endangered plant species might include cloning and growth in protected locations. In spite of these efforts, many plants may not survive extinction if the primary reason behind their endangerment is not addressed and resolved.

Pitcher plants, which grow naturally in swamps and bogs, are one of the world's most endangered plants.
Pitcher plants, which grow naturally in swamps and bogs, are one of the world's most endangered plants.

The rafflesia flower is native to the rain forests of Indonesia. Rafflesia flowers are typically considered to be very unusual looking plants and might grow up to 3 feet (1 m) in width. Rafflesia flowers are normally a bright red color once they bloom, and they do not usually live for more than a week after blooming. These flowers live off of a host plant, which is called the tetrastigma vine. If this vine disappears for good as the deconstruction of the rain forest continues, so will the rafflesia flower, because it gets all of its nourishment from the tetrastigma vine.

Deforestation is a main cause of plants becoming endangered.
Deforestation is a main cause of plants becoming endangered.

Native to Georgia and South Carolina in the southern United States, the pitcher plant is another of the world's most endangered plants. Pitcher plants grow naturally in swamps and bogs, but these areas are becoming fewer and fewer. As a result, the pitcher plant is becoming very hard to find. Pitcher plants are similar to Venus fly traps and other carnivorous plant species, because they feed off of insects. Conservation efforts are being made to protect these plants, but they normally cannot survive unless they are in an environment with high humidity, lots of sunlight, and access to insects.

The hart's tongue fern, which is native to most areas in eastern North America, is rapidly disappearing. These plants have unique requirements for survival, and for this reason they tend to be hard to find. Hart's tongue ferns typically thrive in shady gorges and limestone sinkholes of hardwood forests. There are not many places throughout North America that perfectly meet these requirements, and because of this, even the smallest amount of deforestation can threaten this plant. As of 2010, the hart's tongue fern is not on the list of endangered plants, but it is considered threatened and will likely make the list soon as deforestation of its natural habitat continues.

The rafflesia flower is native to the rain forests of Indonesia.
The rafflesia flower is native to the rain forests of Indonesia.

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Discussion Comments


@titans62 - You have a very good point that should be asked in any circumstance that involves human development versus mother nature.

The father of ecosystem management, Aldo Leopold, may have said it best (paraphrased of course) that nature is the whole of all its parts, and we as humans can't be sure how those parts all work together. Therefore, just removing one small cog could cause irreparable damage to the system as a whole.

My feeling, and that of many others, is that every plant and animal holds some sort of niche in an ecosystem, and after it's gone, it's gone, so we need to keep them as long as possible. This is especially true for endangered plants in the rainforest, since hundreds or thousands of plant species are still unknown to humans and could be forever lost unless we are careful.


One of the questions that never seems to be asked in these situations is how important these threatened and endangered plants really are for the ecosystem as a whole. What is the value of these plants and animals?

In some cases, perhaps the species really is important for regulating how the habitat functions. It still should be asked whether they are worth saving. The government spends tens of thousands of dollars in some cases to make sure certain species are protected.

Habitat loss is often a factor of human development, so in many cases we're asking whether a tiny plant none of us will ever see is worth us paying more for housing or timber. I've found that a lot of people will say they want to help the environment, but they won't actually do anything to help if it costs them time or resources.

Will the world end if the rafflesia flower disappears? Probably not, so what is the purpose in saving it? I'm not necessarily saying we shouldn't, but I'm curious to hear what others think.


@Izzy78 - I believe in the United States, the US Department of Agriculture regulates the endangered plants list. I'm not sure, though, how they decided what should be listed and what shouldn't. My guess is that, like you said, they look at the number of plants that are left and how much suitable habitat is left.

Is anyone aware of any plants that have been protected as threatened or endangered species and have responded well enough to protection that they have been removed from the list? I know it has happened with some animal species like the bald eagle, but I am not as familiar with plant species.

Finally, what can we as regular people do to help endangered species whether they are in the United States or the rainforest or anywhere else? Are there groups that accept donations that are seen as being especially helpful for protecting plant species?


What are the qualifications for a plant to be listed as threatened or endangered? Does it simply go by the number of plants that are known to exist, or are other factors like acres of habitat taken into consideration as well? Also, who determines what should be listed as threatened or endangered?

I live in Florida where there are several endangered plants and animals, since the landscape has been drastically changed from the swamp habitat it used to have.

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